Trump’s ‘war’ on the ‘Deep State’ is escalating — and ‘more axes are sure to fall’: report

Trump’s ‘war’ on the ‘Deep State’ is escalating — and ‘more axes are sure to fall’: report
Image via Screengrab.

After being acquitted in his impeachment trial in early 1999, President Bill Clinton made a point of appearing contrite — even though his approval ratings were soaring. But President Donald Trump, on the other hand, has been more arrogant than ever following his February 5 acquittal in the U.S. Senate on two articles of impeachment. And New York Times reporter Peter Baker, in an article published on February 11, examines some of the ways in which post-impeachment Trump is taking revenge on what he considers “the Deep State.”

“This is an unsettled time in Mr. Trump’s Washington,” Baker explains. “In the days since he was acquitted in a Senate trial, an aggrieved and unbound president has sought to even the scales, as he sees it. Col. Vindman was abruptly marched by security out of the White House, an ambassador who also testified in the House hearings was summarily dismissed, and senior Justice Department officials on Tuesday intervened on behalf of Mr. Trump’s convicted friend, Roger J. Stone, Jr., leading four career prosecutors to quit the case.”

The firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, from the National Security Council (NSC) as well as the firing of Gordon Sondland as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine — all on Friday, February 7 — has been called the Friday Night Massacre, an obvious comparison to President Richard Nixon’s infamous Saturday Night Massacre of 1973. And these firings underscore Trump’s appetite for revenge: he is still furious that Alexander Vindman and Sondland testified during House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry in 2019.

Last year, Stone (a Trump ally and veteran GOP operative) was convicted in federal court on charges ranging from lying to Congress to obstruction of justice to witness tampering. And on Monday, February 10, the DOJ issued a sentencing memo that recommended a federal prison sentence of seven to nine years. But after Trump posted an angry tweet attacking the DOJ for that recommendation, a new sentencing memo was released the following day — one recommending a much more lenient sentence for Stone.

Baker notes that Trump has been railing against Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the Barack Obama appointee who will be sentencing Stone. Jackson, as a judge, has discretion when it comes to sentencing; so, it remains to be seen whether she will give Stone the longer sentence the DOJ recommended on February 10 or the more lenient sentence it recommended on February 11.

According to Baker, the “war between Mr. Trump and what he calls the Deep State” has “entered a new, more volatile phase as the president seeks to assert greater control over a government that he is convinced is not sufficiently loyal to him.” And that “war,” Baker stresses, will only escalate in the days ahead.

“More axes are sure to fall,” Baker reports. “A senior Pentagon official appears in danger of losing her nomination to a top Defense Department post after questioning the president’s suspension of aid to Ukraine. Likewise, a prosecutor involved in Mr. Stone’s case has lost a nomination to a senior Treasury Department position.”

Moreover, Baker adds, “A key National Security Council official is said by colleagues to face dismissal. And the last of dozens of career officials being transferred out of the White House may be gone by the end of the week.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.