Is the Federal Bureaucracy Facing a ‘Deep State’ Purge?

Calls are growing to find and fire federal employees who may be part of a “Deep State” opposition to the Trump administration’s agenda.

Amid reports of leaks and insider fighting in the White House, there are more calls to find and eliminate “Deep State” Federal employees who may oppose President Trump’s plans.

On Friday, Sean Hannity joined the chorus saying: “Deep-state Obama holdovers embedded like barnacles in the federal bureaucracy are hell-bent on destroying President Trump. It’s time for the Trump administration to purge these saboteurs.”

Also on Friday, Attorney General Sessions suddenly requested the resignation of 46 U.S. Attorneys who had been appointed by then-President Obama.

It is not unusual for political appointees to be replaced when a new administration takes over the White House. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations replaced a number of U.S. Attorneys, but in both cases, the changes were made after replacements had been identified.

The danger is that the current White House may go beyond appointees and begin identifying career Federal employees who they regard as unfriendly towards their policies.

In his opening monologue on Friday, Hannity quoted two Congressmen who sound as if they are focused on removing more than just Obama appointees.

“They’re [the Trump Administration] dealing with seditious people within the Department of Justice, within the FBI, within the Department of Interior, within the CIA,” Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said. “There are just people that don’t approve of the Trump presidency, and I think that they’re trying to take him down from the inside. I think you have people within the government, what you call the deep state, bureaucrats, Obama appointees that hate Donald Trump.”

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, agrees. “Donald Trump needs to purge leftists from the executive branch before disloyal, illegal and treasonous acts sink us,” he tweeted.

So far, no evidence has been presented of a so-called “Deep State” in the U.S. bureaucracy, which is defined as a shadow government able to operate independently of the elected government.

But that does not mean that Trump Administration people do not believe a Deep State exists.

When asked directly about the existence of a Deep State, CNN quotes White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as saying:

I think that there’s no question when you have eight years of one party in office, there are people who stay in government — and continue to espouse the agenda of the previous administration. So I don’t think it should come as any surprise there are people that burrowed into government during eight years of the last administration and may have believed in that agenda and may continue to seek it,” he went on. “I don’t think that should come as a surprise.

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa, said last week that Obama chose to continue to live in Washington D.C. “for one purpose and one purpose only and that is to run a shadow government that is totally going to upset the new agenda.”

Sean Hannity completes his Friday monologue by stating:

Every holdover from the Obama administration needs to go. A thorough investigation of leakers needs to be conducted. And people who have committed felonies or violated the Espionage Act must be prosecuted. Those who aren’t actively working with President Trump to fix the country need to be shown the door. They are hurting the people who pay their salaries.

As we await President Trump’s long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal government’s workforce, it remains to be seen if loyalty to his policies will be a consideration in whether career Federal employees will be able to retain their jobs.

You can watch and read Mr. Hannity’s full monologue here.

About the Author

Michael Wald is a public affairs consultant and writer based in the Atlanta area. He specializes in topics related to government and labor issues. Prior to his retirement from the U.S. Department of Labor, he served as the agency’s Southeast Regional Director of Public Affairs and Southeast Regional Economist.