By Will Banyan, Copyright © 16 August 2018
It was a tumultuous time, Hillary Clinton had not secured what seemed to have been hers by right, instead she was cruelly usurped by an upstart candidate whom she had failed to “take…seriously from the beginning”, as one bestselling book argued. Unlike Hillary, this parvenu had “charisma, an advantage not to be taken lightly” (p.303). Hillary’s nemesis, though, was not without his own flaws: his political record was “slim” (p.ix); he had “limited experience…in the national political arena” (p.211); and a “lack of accomplishments” (p.213). Indeed, his “inexperience makes him naïve in foreign policy” (p.257), evident in his questionable claim to have “opposed the Iraq war from the beginning” (p.258) and his pledge to “end the war” there (p.259). Then there was his preposterous proposal to talk to the leaders of North Korea and Iran without preconditions (p.273), and to work on arms control with Russia (p.261). In fact Hillary’s opponent was promoting a foreign policy “predicated on an overconfidence that the power of his personality and his willingness to negotiate will somehow transform international politics” (p.279). Despite these obvious shortcomings, and his “clear weakness facing Hillary Clinton in a one-to-debate”, this candidate sought to overcome them by building a “cult of personality” so he could “transcend the issues” (p.222).
This harsh assessment of Hillary Clinton’s challenger could easily be confused for criticisms of her most recent nemesis, Donald Trump. In fact, these words appeared a decade ago in the book The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality, written by Jerome R. Corsi, PhD, and his target was Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama. Indeed, the stated purpose of Corsi’s book was “to prevent…an Obama presidency” (p.xvi). Obama Nation was pilloried by Obama’s campaign and liberal critics as “one of the worst political books ever written” that was “filled with falsehoods” and “unsupported conjecture”, to which Corsi responded with a rather lame defense.
This was not to be Corsi’s only foray against Obama. In 2011 he attacked President Obama’s legitimacy with his book Where’s the Birth Certificate?: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President. Corsi went to great lengths to suggest Obama was ineligible to be president because he had allegedly not been born in the United States. But Obama pre-empted his book by releasing his long-form birth certificate in April 2011, and Corsi was eviscerated for using “specious arguments and ludicrous speculation in a desperate attempt to cast doubt on Obama’s birthplace” (Media Matters) and for engaging in “a scam to make money off uninformed people” (Baltimore Sun). Now, a decade after The Obama Nation and seven years after Where’s the Birth Certificate? Corsi has set his sights on the current incumbent, Donald Trump, but this time his aim is to praise and defend rather than to attack and defame.
Corsi’s latest book has a portentous title: Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump and has been promoted by Trump confidante Sean Hannity and former Fox presenter Bill O’Reilly, and praised by other Trump supporters. According to sympathetic reviewers Killing the Deep State is “a page turner and mind changer” (Don Sorchych); that is “jam-packed with the entire goods on the organized effort to drive the president office” (Wes Vernon); and “offers one of the best opportunities yet to expose the Deep State and its agenda to a massive national audience…” (Alex Newman).
Yet as an expose of the so-called “Deep State”, Corsi’s book falls well short because its purpose is narrower and more nakedly political: to sell a book to Trump supporters that absolves their hero of the Russia collusion charge. It is not about honest analysis; it does not offer a careful assessment of the evidence that Trump’s campaign illegally accepted assistance from the Russian Government. Instead it evades the central allegations and tries to pick at the credibility of the investigators rather than the facts at hand. In short, as we shall see, Killing the Deep State is little more than a propaganda tract.
All for Trump!
In The Obama Nation Corsi went to great lengths in the preface to distance himself from the GOP, even though there he was, for the second time (the first was Unfit for Command which attacked John Kerry’s military record) doing a hatchet job on the Democrat candidate. Corsi made much of his affiliation with the Constitution Party and insisted that his book was intended to “examine and oppose Barack Obama, not to support John McCain…” (p.xi). It was specious distinction, given that he was clearly helping McCain by attacking Obama.
The Jerome Corsi who wrote Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump is a slightly different creature; now his support for the Republican President is open and unapologetic. The subtitle alone practically shouts the author’s partisanship: this Republican President must be saved! In the introduction Corsi offers a slavish ode to the Dear Leader, President Trump, whom, he contends is the victim of a “Deep State” plot to “destroy” his administration. This was because of his campaign promises to “negotiate successfully with Russia and China to combat terrorism, reduce the chance of nuclear war and negotiate international trade deals that would be fair to the United States” (p.viii). Trump also had somewhat audaciously “defeated 16 GOP Establishment contenders, plus Hillary Clinton, the overwhelming first choice of international bankers and central bankers worldwide” (p.ix). Corsi implores readers to “be on the right side of history” and support Trump in “making America great again” by “killing the Deep State” (p.xiii).
Corsi thus emerges as yet another cog in the increasingly shrill pro-Trump media-verse. The brief biography on the dustcover describes him as the “Washington Bureau Chief for Infowars.com”; Infowars being the website of professional conspiracist and Trump supporter Alex Jones. Corsi’s contributions, fixated on the alleged plot against Trump, can be found on Infowars. But that is not the extent of his connections. Corsi was also a contributor to the avowedly pro-Trump World Net Daily (whose founder Joseph Farah, had heavily promoted Where’s The Birth Certificate?). Furthermore Killing the Deep State is published by Humanix Books, currently owned by NewsMax Media, whose founder and CEO, Christopher Ruddy (author of The Strange Death of Vincent Foster) is a “personal friend” of Trump and reportedly “sees and speaks to the president frequently…”; and who describe himself at a recent Trump dinner as “an enemy of the people that actually supports Donald J. Trump.” Newsmax, not surprisingly, has done much to promote Corsi’s book, whilst lauding the author as “an investigative journalist and conspiracy expert…”
Corsi also fails to disclose his prior relationship with Donald Trump. Early in 2011 Trump, as part of an apparent test-run for the presidency, had dabbled in the birther theory. Trump had reportedly reached out to Corsi, who later sent him an advance copy of Where’s the Birth Certificate? Trump aide Michael Cohen told NBC News that “Jerome Corsi had reached out to Mr. Trump to explain certain facts that are in his book” and that Trump and Corsi had talked “on a handful of occasions.” Cohen also admitted to having “consulted with Corsi” a number of times. Trump, though seemed to drop the issue once Obama released his long-form birth certificate prompting a disenchanted Corsi to complain to Alex Jones that Trump must have been planted to discredit the birther movement. In an on-air conversation with Jones, Corsi elaborated: “I’m convinced Donald Trump, through Mike Cohen, seems to be 50/50 working with Obama…” He even authored a scathing article about Trump, promoting Farah’s suggestion that Trump was secretly working for Obama.
Things have clearly changed now.
A Study in Evasion
Killing the Deep State is a poorly written book with a rather incoherent structure. From the Introduction we can see that the Deep State is out to get Trump for various reasons, but it is only much later in the book that Corsi gives his actual thesis and his methology. Thus, on page 146, Corsi finally gives a concise explanation of his book’s “central premise”:
President Trump is the target of coup d’etat being undertaken by the Deep State, including the CIA, NSA and other intelligence agencies that maintain a commitment to a globalist New World Order.
Corsi’s methodology for exploring this theory is explained a few pages later in the midst of his explanation of the “Deep State Propaganda Narrative”. There, after claiming the Russia collusion narrative lacks “proof” (why hasn’t the Deep State just fabricated it?), Corsi offers two “propaganda rules” to explain the Deep State’s tactics,:
Propaganda Rule #1: Any facts that disprove the disinformation meme false are rejected as not definitive because the investigation is continuing and proof might yet be found.
Propaganda Rule #2: Anyone attempting to disprove the truth of the disinformation meme is targeted for ridicule as part of the conspiracy theory (pp.150-151)
One might note both of these “rules” describe tactics that are routinely employed by conspiracy theorists to make their own claims unfalsifiable. As Corsi explains:
Even when evidence proving the meme false is produced, the skilled Deep State propagandist can keep the meme going by qualifying the claim, ever so slightly, as to leave open the possibility that it could yet be proven true, if only the public could get access to the ‘real information’ (p.150).
Corsi is course describing same tactics he employed in a desperate bid to keep “Birther” conspiracy theory alive after Obama had released his long-form birth certificate in 2011. Back then Corsi immediately implied the certificate was a forgery and claimed it was up to the White House “to support the veracity of all the information contained in the birth document released yesterday morning.” For months afterwards Corsi continued to contest the authenticity of the document. Indeed, even in 2017 Corsi was peddling the theory on Infowars that the CIA had hacked the Hawaii government computers to install a forged birth certificate. On these two “propaganda rules”, Corsi clearly speaks from experience.
Nevertheless, it is in response to these “propaganda rules” that Corsi reveals his own core methodology: “those attempting to defend President Trump will not advance the cause by refuting Democratic Party and mainstream media claims that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia…” (p.151; emphasis added). In short, Corsi’s approach is to avoid examining the specific claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He dismisses the Russia collusion allegations as “false” (p.161); there is “no evidence” (p.148) and “no proof” (p.180). Even if there was, Corsi cites legal opinion that there is “no law on the books” that makes colluding with the Russians a felony (p.149).
And true to Corsi’s approach, he basically ignores most of the evidence for the Trump-Russia collusion narrative. To wit: no attempt is made to explain either why there were nearly 82 meetings and contacts between Trump campaign officials and various Russian officials and cut-outs,[*] or why members of the Trump camp, including Trump himself have repeatedly and dishonestly denied there were any such contacts; there is no mention of the highly suspicious and likely illegal Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016 where Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met an assortment of Russians claiming to offer dirt on Clinton provided by the Russian Government; no explanation for the repeated lies about that meeting or Trump’s role in dictating a misleading statement to the media about it; nothing is said about Donald Trump Jr’s lunch in Paris on October 11, 2016 with a “Syrian peace activist” who shortly after travelled to Moscow to brief Russian Foreign Ministry officials about the meeting and who later boasted of sending a message from Russia to Trump via his son; so are other meetings, such as Erik Prince’s mysterious get-together with a Russian fund manager in the Seychelles in late 2016; and finally not a word is said about the activities of other key figures in the emerging scandal specifically Michael Cohen, Carter Page, Roger Stone, George Nader, Sam Nunberg, and the late Peter W. Smith.
The total omission of Trump confidante and “informal adviser” Roger Stone is particularly troubling. Aside from his advance praise for Killing the Deep State appearing on the back cover (Figure 1), Stone, who seems likely to be indicted over his alleged role as a cut-out for the Trump campaign liaising with Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks, is not mentioned once. Yet this was no accident or oversight, but a deliberate decision by Corsi to conceal his work with Stone in support of Trump’s campaign. In mid-2016 ConWebWatch reported that Corsi had “formed an alliance with notoriously sleazy political dirty trickster — and adviser to Donald Trump — Roger Stone.” Initially this just seemed to involve endorsing each other’s work, but it is clear the relationship went much deeper than that.
Roger Stone’s book about the election, The Making of the President 2016, was dedicated to, among others, “Dr. Jerome S. Corsi, mentor, colleague and one of the most effective investigative reporters today” (p.v). Stone does not detail his personal dealings with Corsi, but he repeatedly touts Corsi’s World Net Daily articles during the campaign. We also know that they socialised (in one case they dined with Ted Malloch[†], who was later subpoenaed by Mueller) and Corsi had provided Stone with an opposition research memo on John Podesta. Corsi, in turn, ran reports on WND based on Stone’s information, including that Wikileaks (Figure 2) was about to release thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails “to derail [her] presidential campaign.” Stone had “told WND in an interview that he has communicated directly with [Wikileaks founder Julian] Assange.” Stone and “Jerry” clearly had a close working relationship during the campaign, that will one day be fully revealed; but with Stone now a person-of-interest in Mueller’s investigation, Corsi has elected to hide it.
When evidence of the alleged collusion or conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign is mentioned, Corsi does his best to belittle it. The hapless George Papadopoulos, for example, is dismissed as a “minor player in the Trump campaign”, his indictment “not for colluding with Russia, but for lying to the FBI” (p.152) is apparently all that we need to know. No mention of the information received by Papadopoulos in April 2016 from suspected Russian cut-out Joseph Mifsud that the Russians had “thousands of emails” that would be detrimental to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Nor does Corsi seek to explain the extent of Papadopoulos’ lies to the FBI, including his amateurish attempts to conceal evidence of his contacts with Mifsud and other alleged cut-outs.
Only on the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and Podesta emails does Corsi make some sort of effort. But his approach involves merely following the already well-established path for disputing that Russia was behind the hacking. He questions whether the alleged hacker, Guccifer 2.0, was a Russian (p.91), argues that the hacking was actually an internal leak (pp.93-94), and endorses Julian Assange’s suggestion the leaker was murdered DNC campaign worker Seth Rich (pp.92, 150). Much like the 9/11 “Truthers” who contested the official narrative that Al Qaeda was solely responsible for those attacks and claimed it was an “inside job”; Corsi rejects the contention of the US intelligence community, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Special Counsel that Russian intelligence were responsible for the hack in favour of yet another “inside job”.
To support this “inside job” narrative Corsi’s approach is threefold: first he attacks the investigators and any other parties associated with the Russia collusion narrative, repeatedly smearing them as “Deep State” hacks and/or Clinton lackeys; second, he accuses these “Deep State operatives” of fabricating the Russia collusion narrative; and finally, in the big reveal, he claims that the Clintons and Democrats are actually guilty of colluding with Russia.
Smears ‘R Us
To discredit the investigators, Corsi resorts to a series slights, smears and aspersions. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, fired FBI Director James Comey, current and former intelligence heads, senior Obama Administration officials and any Trump Administration officials involved in the investigation are all dismissed as part of the pro-Clinton, “Deep State” conspiracy. There are numerous examples of this:
- Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney-General who appointed Mueller, is casually and inaccurately smeared as “initially an Obama appointee” (p.8) and later as “a long-term Department of Justice operative favourable to the Democrats” (p.63).
- Corsi claims Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan “appears to have been Barack Obama’s CIA ‘handler’” (p.59).
- Mueller is repeatedly denounced as a “Deep State operative” (pp.xi, 29 & 63).
- Mueller and Comey are smeared as “Clinton-fixers” (p.64).
- Rosenstein, Mueller and Comey all accused of having played key roles in exonerating the Clintons in a number of scandals (pp.63-66).
The “Deep State” is, of course, the leading source of villainy in Corsi’s book; he accuses a “host of criminally cunning Deep State political operatives” of having not only Trump, but the US Constitution and ultimately US sovereignty in their sights (p.xi). In Corsi’s sinister vision, this “Deep State” is a seemingly omnipotent and omnipresent cabal that has thoroughly corrupted the American political scene. And so it goes: “Deep State intelligence operatives” are out to destroy the Trump administration (p.xviii); “Deep State globalists and central bankers” comprise an “evil, unconstitutional shadow government” (p.xii); “the Deep State was still running the show” (p.6); “the Deep State…dared to imagine that if Trump could be prevented from taking the oath of office, Hillary Clinton may yet be president (p.40); the Deep State maneuvered to have Robert Mueller, a Deep State operative…appointed as special counsel” (p.59); “the Deep State had set a trap” (p.63); and there is a “Deep State coup d’état in progress.”
But what is this “Deep State” that leaves Corsi so incensed? In Chapter Three, Corsi offers a number of definitions of the “Deep State”, starting with his own brief description of “deep politics”, where a diabolical mix of “mobsters”, “government intelligence agency drug dealers”, Wall Street financiers, and K-street lobbyists apparently collaborate in secret to shape government policy and influence Congress (p.28). He also cites other definitions from Mike Lofgren (author of the The Deep State), President Eisenhower (the “military industrial complex”), former CIA officer Kevin Shipp, and academic Peter Dale Scott (the “American War Machine”) (pp.29-31). Logfren defines the “Deep State” as distinct from the Establishment and insists it is not a “conspiratorial cabal”:
The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department
Logfren attributes to this “Deep State”, which seems to comprise mostly career bureaucrats in the intelligence and defense spheres and their counterparts in the national security industry, the ability to shape and protect certain policies, no matter who is in power. Shipp and Scott, in contrast, offer more sinister interpretations of the “Deep State”, placing the CIA at the centre of this web of intrigue, tying it to the assassination of JFK and other dastardly deeds.
For Corsi, however, the “Deep State” is just another politically-loaded label that means whatever he wants it to mean. It gives him a convenient scapegoat, a mysterious cabal embedded in the US Government that allegedly protected Obama and the Clintons, but which has targeted Trump. It is a label to assign to Trump’s enemies, tying them all together as: “criminally cunning Deep State political operatives…including John Brennan, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, James Comey, and Robert Mueller—as well as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton” (p.ix). Corsi’s “Deep State” also includes both George Soros, other “international globalists and their central bank financiers” (p.ix), the “hard left” (such as Antifa), the mainstream media (p.120), the “CIA, NSA, and other intelligence agencies that maintain a commitment to a globalist New World Order”, the Federal Reserve, the Comptroller of Currency, the DOJ and FBI (p.146). This remarkable alliance, large parts of which one might otherwise call the US Government, is rebranded as the “Deep State” so it can be accused of all manner of crimes to serve Corsi’s story of Trump’s ongoing victimhood.
An obvious problem with Corsi’s reasoning is why this seemingly all-powerful “Deep State” was unable to stop Trump. Clinton’s campaign was continually damaged by the email scandal, while comparatively little was heard about the FBI investigation into Russia’s links to the Trump campaign. As this chart below (Figure 3) from a study by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University shows, mainstream media and social media coverage was far more fixated on the Clinton email scandal than on Trump-Russia. In fact, even the Benghazi scandal attracted more negative coverage than Trump-Russia.
None of this is reflected in Corsi’s Deep State narrative where he argues that “politically biased FBI officials” were out to “impeach Trump” (p.6) and there were “FBI and DOJ operatives favourable to the Democrats to make sure investigations into Deep State crimes went nowhere…” (p.71). His vision of a monolithically pro-Clinton Deep State ignores the real political divisions within the FBI that set out to damage Clinton’s electorate chances while supporting Trump. Corsi’s narrative fails to explain why representatives of the FBI and intelligence agencies leaked information to the New York Times in late 2016 (Figure 4) just days before the election disputing the Trump-Russian collusion narrative.
This was no innocent oversight or due to pure ignorance on his part; Corsi knew this was happening: he had reported about leaks from pro-Trump elements in the FBI and intelligence agencies for World Net Daily in mid-2016 (Figure 5). Corsi had quoted the claims of former US attorney Joseph diGenova that the FBI was sure to recommend to Attorney General Lynch that Hillary Clinton be “prosecuted for mishandling of classified information.” DiGenova warned of a “revolt of Watergate proportions” within the FBI “if the charges do not go forward.” Corsi’s source claimed to have been “speaking with former FBI, Secret Service and intelligence people about the case” who were in contact with “their brothers and sisters in the law enforcement community…” So much for the “Deep State”.
Corsi’s next trick is to accuse the “Deep State” of fabricating the evidence against Trump. To achieve this Corsi engages in an idiotic discussion about the unmasking controversy. At first he claims that once the Obama Administration had discovered Trump campaign officials were talking with the targets of “FISA-authorized surveillance of foreign nationals” they decided to “make the unmasked US citizens the targets of future surveillance.” But in the very next paragraph he claims that some pro-Trump Congressmen were “convinced” that the FBI and the NSA went “one step further”:
…deciding to place foreign nationals believed to be in touch with Trump campaign officials under electronic surveillance, with the intent of capturing Trump campaign officials in communications with targeted foreign nationals” (p.32).
Most readers would surely be confused by this: as the “one step further” sounds exactly like the first step when “foreign nationals” were already under surveillance. If Corsi is trying to argue that a new set of foreign nationals were subject intercepts to catch out the Trump campaign officials, he fails to provide specific examples to substantiate the charge. Of course he cannot do this, because the Congressmen pursuing this issue were only “convinced” it had happened, there was no evidence.
Corsi seems to be making some serious charges, but his already confused narrative is undercut by too much speculation and too little evidence. Qualifiers such as “appears” and “may” are thrown into the text suggesting the Obama Administration ordered illegal surveillance and the leaking of the unmasked identities to the media (pp.32-34). He also claims that “Obama administration officials” had illegally leaked unmasked intelligence to the New York Times (pp.34-37). But Corsi, naturally, overlooks that the article in question (Figure 6), which detailed the extent of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, also undermined the collusion narrative with the unnamed presumably “Deep State” leakers claiming not to have seen “evidence of such cooperation” in the intercepts. Corsi again fails to consider that pro-Trump elements in the “Deep State” might have prematurely leaked the information about intercepts with a spin on them designed to take charge of the narrative.
Of course, Corsi’s fixation on the alleged illegal unmasking serves to obscure the more perplexing issue of why there were so many contacts between the Trump campaign and “senior Russian intelligence officials”. But that issue is not the subject of this book.
He also attacks the so-called Steele Dossier, produced by former MI-6 officer Christopher Steele for the US company Fusion GPS, that was retained by law firm Perkins Coie on behalf of the DNC to dig up dirt on Trump. Corsi barely engages with the substance of the dossier, preferring to dismiss it as “fake” or “fraudulent” (p.90) and to quote Trump’s denunciations of the dossier as “fake news” and a “pile of garbage” (pp.87-88), instead he fixates on who wrote it, who paid for it and who disseminated it. Our intrepid researcher, though, cannot approach this issue without distorting or inventing evidence to support his cause.
On Steele, for example, Corsi claims that his relationship with the FBI was terminated “after it became known [he] had falsified information in the ‘Russia Dossier’” (p.87). This claim is of course wildly inaccurate. The Washington Post article Corsi cites to support it says no such thing. On the contrary it claims the FBI-Steele relationship was “interrupted” once the dossier “became the subject of news stories, congressional inquiries and presidential denials…” The FBI broke its relationship with Steele because he had revealed his activities to Mother Jones journalist David Corn. An article in Mother Jones (Oct. 31, 2016) by Corn revealed how a “former senior intelligence officer for a Western country” had provided the FBI with “memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump…”
Recently released FBI documents confirm (Figure 7) it was because of his contact with Corn that the FBI terminated its relationship with Steele.
Next in Corsi’s bag of tricks is to accuse the Clintons of colluding with Russia. In Chapter 8 he attempts to prove that the “Clinton Foundation…has been a vast criminal conspiracy with extensive ties to Russia” (p.94). Exhibit one in this sordid tale is of course the Uranium One saga. And as anticipated Corsi resorts to a number of misrepresentations and even outright falsehoods to support claims the Clintons “colluded” with the Russians to allow the sale of Uranium One to Russian firm Rosatom.
For example, according to Corsi, Canadian entrepreneur Frank Giustra is the key figure at the centre of Uranium One “pay-to-play scandal” (pp.58 & 72), because he had donated some $131 million to the Clinton Foundation (pp.99-100). This is despite the fact that Giustra was not a Uranium One shareholder having sold all his shares in his company UrAsia Energy Ltd in 2007 (Dow Jones, Feb. 12, 2007). That was two years before Rosatom looked at acquiring its first stake in Uranium One (Interfax, Dec 17, 2009) and three years before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approved Rosatom’s acquisition. Giustra should not be part of the Uranium One story, yet Coris misleadingly conflates his donations with those of other Uranium One shareholders to claim:
By the time the Russians had acquired 100 percent of Uranium one in 2013, nine of the shareholders in the company had reportedly contributed $145 million in donations to the foundation (p.104).
Whether the donations even matter is also a question that Corsi has no interest in exploring. Nine agencies are represented at the CFIUS, including the Department of State. But Corsi makes no effort to determine if the heads of the other agencies represented were beneficiaries of donations from Uranium One to help them vote the right way. For political reasons his focus is solely on Clinton and even then Corsi struggles to make his case.
The notion that Clinton supported the sale of Uranium One at CFIUS is undermined by the account of Jose Fernandez, the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs (a now a partner at Gibson Dunn). Fernandez was the State Department’s delegate at CFIUS and he told the New York Times (Apr. 24, 2015) that “Mrs. Clinton never intervened with me on any C.F.I.U.S. matter.” To counter this Corsi cites a Daily Caller article to suggest that in return for his “pledge of loyalty to Clinton” and agreeing to mislead the New York Times about her role, Tony Podesta put Fernandez on the board of the Center for American Progress (CAP) (pp.103-104). But Corsi get his facts wrong.
The Daily Caller quotes from two emails in the article but puts them in reverse chronological order: the first email from April 17, 2015, quotes Fernandez’s offer to do “all I can to support Secretary Clinton” in her political campaign; in the second email, from March 29, 2015 Fernandez thanks for Podesta for his support in getting him on the CAP board of trustees. In short, Fernandez was already on the CAP board well before he spoke to the New York Times and well before he told Podesta he was ready to help Hillary Clinton’s political campaign. There is no evidence that Fernandez and Podesta engaged in any “pay-to-play” on this; his email details a range of activities but there is no mention of the Uranium One issue.
Of course this level of shoddiness is typical of Corsi’s supposed “investigative journalism” and permeates the entire book, meaning his counter-narrative cannot withstand close scrutiny. Robert Mueller’s visit to Moscow as FBI Director on August 17, 2009, for example, to personally deliver a sample of stolen highly enriched uranium is recast as something sinister. Corsi embellishes the story as “secret trip”, the reasons for which have “never been made clear”; and insists the visit “demands detailed investigation” because Mueller supposedly overlooked “potentially criminal transactions related to Frank Giustra” (pp.106-107). The entirely mundane reasons for Mueller’s visit are cited in the cables acquired by WikiLeaks.
But facts have long been optional for Corsi, and it seems whoever edited this book. For example, Mueller is erroneously described as an “attorney general” in the Bush and Obama administrations from 2001-2013 twice (pp.59 & 65); even though he was FBI Director for that period. He rails against Hillary Clinton not taking an oath or a “verbatim transcript being made” during her FBI interview (p.8) even though oaths from interviewees and verbatim transcripts are not requirements of FBI investigations. And according to Corsi last year’s infamous “Unite the Right” rally was actually in Charleston, South Carolina, rather than in Charlottesville, Virginia (p.138). And so on.
None of this should be a surprise and readers looking for a serious critical analysis of the Trump-Russia scandal will be disappointed. Corsi’s book does tick a number of conspiratorial boxes: it claims there is a plot by a nefarious socialist “Deep State” cabal against Trump, the US Constitution and national sovereignty. It even employs terms such as “globalist”, “New World Order” and “international financier” and finds reason to suggest that George Soros is somehow involved in this plot. But exposing an alleged conspiracy is not the primary objective of this book. This is because Killing the Deep State has been written to serve a specific political purpose: to discredit Mueller and his investigation and thus make it politically impossible for Republicans in Congress to support any moves to impeach Trump.[‡]
In fact Corsi’s book is but a small segment of a wider campaign to protect Trump by delegitimizing the Special Counsel’s investigation. Killing the Deep State joins other books in this genre including: Ted Malloch’s The Plot to Destroy Trump; Edward Klein’s All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump; Gregg Jarrett’s The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump; and Judge Jeanine Pirro’s Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy. The last two books (probably because both authors work for Fox News Channel) have even received Trump’s personal endorsement (Figure 8). Corsi may not have secured a presidential promotion for his latest book, but he clearly works to the same purpose.
For those reasons Trump supporters will to find much in Killing the Deep State that is to their liking. Indeed, as a work of political propaganda the book is surely deserving of great praise. It sustains Trump’s own narrative that he is the victim of a “Deep State” conspiracy and that the Russian collusion story is “fake news”. It attacks all the usual suspects: George Soros, Antifa, the “hard left”, “socialists”, Democrats, Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton. Apparently sales have been good. But as an indictment of the dangers of plutocracy and hidden power Killing the Deep State merely serves as an exhibit rather than as an analysis it purports to be…
[*] In the parlance of espionage a “cut-out” is a trusted intermediary, a third-party who facilitates contacts between agents. It also applies to the use of intermediaries by politicians or diplomats, who want to keep their communications secret and deniable. A classic example is the Nixon campaign’s use of John Mitchell and Anna Chennault as cut-outs to sabotage the Vietnam peace talks in 1968. Nixon conveyed his instructions to campaign chair Mitchell who then spoke to Chennault, who then met with the South Vietnamese Ambassador Diem, convincing them to boycott the talks called by President Johnson, claiming that they would get a better deal under Nixon (see Ken Hughes, Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, The Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate, University of Virginia Press, 2014, pp.67 & 69).
[†] Corsi also fails to mention Malloch in his book.
[‡] As Paul Waldman recently observed in the Washington Post (Aug, 14, 2018): …”Trump has spent the past 15 months since Mueller was appointed trying to discredit the investigation, in a campaign designed less to persuade the broader public than to convince his base that it is a witch hunt from start to finish and therefore everything it produces, no matter how factual and supported by evidence, should be ignored and discounted. He has obviously calculated, and rightly so, that if he can keep that base firmly behind him, Republicans in the House will never vote to impeach him…”