Trump has claimed for years that there is a group of anti-Trump officials within the government trying to take him down.
For years, Donald Trump has claimed there is a "deep state" of anti-Trump intelligence officials from former President Barack Obama's administration trying to take him down from within the government — a false conspiracy theory promulgated by fringe far-right activists.
But despite Trump's frequent comments on the "deep state," Trump's nominee to head the intelligence community said Tuesday he's never heard of the term and doesn't know what it is.
The admission from Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), Trump's pick for director of national intelligence, came during a line of questioning at his confirmation hearing from Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM).
"President Trump has repeatedly and without any basis, in my view, accused the hard-working men and women of the [intelligence community] of working to undermine his administration. Do you think, do you believe that there is a 'deep state' in the ic?" Henrich asked Ratcliffe.
To which Ratcliffe replied, "I don't know what that means."
"Sen. [Susan] Collins and I talked about that in our call. I don't know what that is," Ratcliffe added.
And he's mentioned the "deep state" many more times during his tenure, including tweeting about it 18 times since he was elected in 2016.
Trump most recently tweeted about the "deep state" on March 9, writing that he still wants to rid the government of these alleged anti-Trump activists.
"'Trump has outmastered the Deep State. He’s light years ahead of us.'" Trump tweeted, seeming to claim that quote came from "MSDNC" — his pejorative nickname for MSNBC.
"I disagree," Trump went on, an apparent acknowledgment that he believes there are still "deep state" actors in the government.
"We have a long way to go. There are still some very bad, sick people in our government — people who do not love our Country (In fact, they hate our Country!)," he wrote.
On March 20, he called the State Department the "Deep State Department" during a coronavirus task force briefing — leading task force member, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to cover his face in a now-infamous moment.
Heinrich asked Ratcliffe if he believes it's "inappropriate and in some context illegal" for Trump to "remove or reassign, to screen or otherwise discriminate against career IC personnel for political reasons including on the basis of their ... work assignments in previous administrations?"
Ratcliffe replied that, yes, he believes that is inappropriate.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.