President Trump is battling an entrenched “Permanent State” — unelected bureaucratic workers entrenched throughout the echelons of government who are unaccountable to the American people and even the president, Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s former deputy assistant, said Friday at a panel that conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch hosted.
Referred to derisively as the “Deep State,” Gorka said a more accurate name for the officials who have filled government bureaucracies in Washington is the “Permanent State” because they are neither hidden nor covert.
“It was in our faces. It was arrogant. It was right there in the surface of our policy discussions at the highest level of the White House. … It’s overt,” he said during the panel, which was called Exposing the Deep State.
He added, “It’s been there for a long time. This thing has been brewing for decades, truly decades.”
Gorka, who left the White House about three weeks ago, described attending frequent meetings at the National Security Council, where participants from all the agencies — State Department, Defense Department, Justice Department, the intelligence community — would never once mention the president’s name or his agenda, as if it did not exist or matter.
Even worse, the Permanent State is fighting back against Trump’s agenda in the form of leaks, he suggested, citing a recent Senate report that showed there were 125 national security leaks during the first 126 days of the administration, with at least 60 of them having to do with serious national security matters.
“I’ve seen the worst of the worst — the first seven months of how the bureaucracy responded to the administration of Donald J. Trump,” he said.
Gorka, former national security editor at Breitbart News and a professor, described the hostility he drew when he asked for three of his former students, who were already government officials in the intelligence community, to be transferred over to him at the White House — a common practice known as detailing.
Not only did their agencies deny the request, but they punished those individuals by taking them off their jobs and put into menial tasks “outside the National Security remit.”
This was “through no fault of their own,” Gorka noted. “Why? Because the ‘seventh floor’ of that agency — to quote a senior individual — ‘looks at the White House as the enemy,’” he said, referring to the agencies’ top officials. “Now, let’s just let that sink in for a moment.”
At the same time, he said he saw “sherpas” — people assigned to guide incoming Cabinet secretaries into their new agencies, who had nothing to do with the presidential campaign and were even “Never Trumpers,” — take powerful positions in the administration.
James Peterson, a senior attorney for Judicial Watch who also spoke on the panel, said it is still as difficult to get the government to hand over documents as it was during the Obama administration.
“The same people are still there. They’re not just at each of the agencies that are in control,” he said. “The same people that are still in control.”
“Even though there’s a new president, new policies and a new perspective on things, nothing changes,” he said, adding that federal workers are openly using encrypted cell phone technology to communicate with one another to avoid accountability, which he called an “open violation of the law.”
Christopher Farrell, Judicial Watch’s director of investigations and research and professor at George Mason University, noted that an overwhelming majority of people in the Washington, DC-area voted for Hillary Clinton.
“Ninety-four of Washington, DC, voted for Hillary Clinton. If you go to Prince George’s County, it’s something like 89 percent. If you go to Arlington, it’s something like 87 percent,” Farrell said.
“When that population gets up in the morning and sort of goes to work and staffs and mans the departments and agencies of the government … that is the headquarters. That is the leadership of all the departments and agencies,” he said.
“And so, that is what the new administration faces,” he said.
Diana West, a Yale-educated conservative columnist and author who also spoke on the panel, said the “national security super state” is particularly unaccountable.
“That has long, long run amok and is worse than ever, flouting our Fourth Amendment protections daily without oversight and with immense and frightening powers,” she said.
She said the CIA, FBI, and NSA inserted themselves into the presidential campaign “in order to destroy his candidacy and presidency.”
“It is Trump who is imperiled,” she said.