(CNN)President Donald Trump is deeply invested in the idea that there is a “Deep State” embedded within the government bureaucracy — and centered in the Department of Justice — which actively worked to defeat him in 2016 and then sought to undermine him once he won the presidency.
That conspiracy theory, which has never had much merit, suffered a near-fatal blow Friday afternoon when the Department of Justice declined to pursue criminal charges against former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. (McCabe is a CNN contributor.)
That decision ends a nearly-two-year investigation into whether McCabe, in his role as a senior official in the FBI, lied to investigators about conversations he had with reporters. McCabe had long insisted that if he had done so it had been purely accidental, and noted that, in his role, he was authorized to speak to the media.
Trump spent much of the investigation dumping on McCabe, a man who he insisted was, along with former FBI director James Comey, at the center of the “Deep State” conspiracy against him.
On the day McCabe was fired — less than two days before his planned retirement from the bureau — Trump tweeted this:
“Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!”
And he kept at it — month after month running through the names of his “Deep State” enemies and demanding legal action against them. Here’s one example from last fall after former Trump adviser Roger Stone was convicted for lying in regard to his role in the Russian interference mess:
“So they now convict Roger Stone of lying and want to jail him for many years to come. Well, what about Crooked Hillary, Comey, Strzok, Page, McCabe, Brennan, Clapper, Shifty Schiff, Ohr & Nellie, Steele & all of the others, including even Mueller himself? Didn’t they lie? A double standard like never seen before in the history of our Country?”
Everywhere he went — White House, campaign trail, even foreign countries, Trump would recite his list. (It reminded me of nothing so much as Arya Stark’s list.) It was evidence, he clearly believed, of oodles of wrongdoing that, once exposed, would show how rotten to the c