WASHINGTON, U.S. - A conspiracy theory or an actual body that is working non-stop to undermine the Trump presidency? Whatever it might be, the U.S. President is reportedly drawing out battle plans to thwart the threat that 'deep state' enemies are posing against his supremacy.
The deep state is believed to be an entity that coordinates efforts by government employees and others to influence state policy without regard for democratically elected leadership.
While the existence of the alleged deep state is debatable to start with, Trump's administration has been paranoid about the body right from the start of his presidency, which his close aides believe is his real 'Opposition.'
Trump and the 'deep state'
So strong were the fears that an extraordinary memo by a former national security official was leaked to the media mid-way through the year, which revealed the administration's fervent belief and paranoia about the cabal of bankers, globalists, the media and even Republican leaders - or Trump's perceived enemies within the White House.
The internal document written in May this year, by Rich Higgins, who was ousted by the national security adviser, HR McMaster, showed the fears further accelerated by the now-ousted 'alt-right' Steve Bannon wing of the administration.
The seven-page document entitled POTUS & Political Warfare and written in florid pseudo-intellectual language, claimed that the Trump administration is suffering under "withering information campaigns designed to first undermine, then delegitimize and ultimately remove the president."
The document, which was handed to Trump by his son Donald Trump Jr, illustrated the siege mentality that fuels Trump, his then-chief strategist, Steve Bannon and the "alt-right" in their endless running battles with the media, the so-called "deep state" and others.
The document stated, "Recognizing in candidate Trump an existential threat to cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative, those that benefit recognize the threat he poses and seek his destruction."
The document reportedly identified seven groups that Higgins claimed are part of a huge conspiracy to bring the president down.
What's Trump's game plan?
Now, reports claim that the Trump White House is considering a proposal for a global, private spy network to counter "'deep state' enemies" who want to undermine Trump's presidency.
The proposals for the network were reportedly developed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos – as well as retired CIA officer John Maguire and Oliver North, who was heavily involved in the Iran-Contra scandal and was reportedly brought on board to "sell the effort" to the administration.
According to current and former U.S. intelligence officials quoted in The Intercept report, the spies would be "off the books," sidestepping official U.S. intelligence agencies and would report directly to CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
A former senior U.S. intelligence official with knowledge of the proposals reportedly said that Pompeo doesn't trust the "CIA bureaucracy," so a global spy network is necessary to collect intelligence that is not shared with the intelligence community.
A source noted, "Pompeo can't trust the CIA bureaucracy, so we need to create this thing that reports just directly to him. It is a direct-action arm, totally off the books."
Trump has repeatedly alleged that there are officials in politics and government departments and agencies who seek to undermine his administration - calling it a 'deep State' conspiracy.
Now, the plans include a network that would reportedly consist of an "army of spies" in countries worldwide, including in North Korea and Iran, both of which are currently "denied areas" for U.S. intelligence.
According to the report, the Vice President Mike Pence was among those who had been briefed on the plan.
However, once the report appeared, a spokesperson for Pence said there was "no record of [Prince] ever having met with or briefed the VP."
Meanwhile, two former senior intelligence officials said that Pompeo has "embraced" the plan and is pressuring the White House to adopt the proposal.
According to the report, individuals involved with the plans have held secret meetings with potential donors in the Trump Hotel.
A spokesman for the National Security Council quoted in the report said that the White House "does not and would not support such a proposal," and that he could find "no evidence" that the proposals were ever brought to the attention of the White House or the National Security Council.
A CIA spokesperson meanwhile said, "You have been provided wildly inaccurate information by people peddling an agenda."
Even Prince and Maguire have denied that they are working together, and Prince has denied involvement in the project at all.
A source quoted in the Intercept report, however, said, "There is no doubt that Prince and Maguire were working together."
According to one source, Maguire was concerned about "deep state" operatives within the CIA who joined under Obama and were withholding information from Trump.
The source said,"[Maguire] said there were people inside the CIA who joined in the previous eight years, and inside the government, and they were failing to give the president the intelligence he needed."
Who are the enemies?
Amongst the enemies mentioned in the report were the mainstream media, the academy, the deep state, global corporatists and bankers, Democratic leadership, Republican leadership, and Islamists.
According to the memo, the mainstream media was described as "the principle [sic] mechanism for implementing narratives."
Keeping up the strategy to fight the first enemy, Trump frequently attacks CNN, the New York Times and Washington Post and has described the media as the "enemy of the American people."
White House press briefings have frequently involved acrimonious clashes with certain reporters and at the same time, Trump evidently continues to crave media attention.
Secondly, there is "the academy," and Higgins has argued in the memo that it is "a key conduit for creating future adherents to cultural Marxist narratives."
The perceived foes in this category would presumably range from climate scientists to liberal academics to university campuses that ban offensive speech.
The deep state, the third enemy is a bureaucratic state beholden to no one, certainly not the American people.
Higgins claims that with no considerations other than furthering its own power, "the deep state truly becomes, as Hegel advocated, god [sic] bestriding the earth."
Pro-Trump media such as Breitbart have frequently railed against intelligence agencies for leaking against the president.
Trump too has repeatedly mentioned that he has no confidence in the CIA and more recently, attacked the FBI's reputation.
Global corporatists and bankers are the next 'enemies' on the list.
According to the memo, the "global corporatists and bankers," who indulge in "exploitation of populations, unfettered by national protections and notions of personal morality and piety."
Trump has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, criticised trade deals such as Nafta and threatened a trade war with China.
Fifth on the list of enemies is a more predictable - leadership of the Democratic party.
The memo refers to the obvious 'opposition' as "a counter-state enabler that executes, sustains, and protects cultural Marxist programs of action and facilitates the relentless expansion of the deep state."
Trump has repeatedly blamed Democrats for pushing the investigation into his election campaign's alleged collusion with Russia and blocking various of his policies.
Even a year after the election, the president continues to take swipes at Democrat Hillary Clinton and has appeared to be obsessed with undoing Barack Obama's legacy and criticizing his predecessor.
The next on the list is the Republican leadership, which is described as being "more afraid of being accused of being called a racist, sexist, homophobe or Islamophobe than of failing to enforce their oaths to 'support and defend the Constitution'" and "increasingly indistinguishable from their Democratic counterparts."
Over the last year, Trump has clashed with several GOP members too, and has more prominently fought publicly with Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and other establishment Republicans.
Seventh and last on the list is "Islamists" whose strategy "seeks to divide American society against itself with the forced imposition of Islamist objectives on one half of American society by the other half."
Trump has made moves to fight this enemy, with his travel ban and criticism of Islamist attacks in different parts of the world.
Higgins's memo concludes that the "defense of President Trump is the defense of America" and compares him to Abraham Lincoln.
When the memo was leaked to the media, Ken Gude, a senior fellow on the national security team at the Center for American Progress thinktank in Washington, said, "It's the craziest thing I've seen come out of the National Security Council staff, that's for sure. It's the bizarre ramblings of a conspiracy theorist. It's unhinged."
Gude noted that the list of Trump's foes "could be read to describe just about everybody except for loyalists. It's quite alarming to think this is how people close to the president view the world and view the country."
He noted, "It's in some ways reassuring that this individual was removed but it's deeply troubling he got there in the first place and it seems to be a reflection of some individuals close to the president. Steve Bannon doesn't descend into the depths of lunacy this memo expresses but it is a similar worldview that links globalists and Islamists in a world conspiracy."
Meanwhile, Joshua Green, author of the bestseller Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, said, "The memo itself is so overheated and batty that it doesn't sound like Bannon. Or it sounds like Bannon if Bannon took a bong before writing it. I've never heard him use phrases like 'cultural Marxist memes' that Higgins does."
He, however, pointed out, "I'm not sure I entirely understand what the point of the memo is or who it's meant to be read by, but the general paranoia that Trump is under assault by enemies including people in the administration is certainly something in the thinking of people around Bannon."
The memo even managed to leave White House veterans aghast.
Commenting on the memo, Bill Galston, a former policy adviser to Bill Clinton, said, "It's a classic example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you begin by treating people as implacable enemies who can't be conciliated, you're bound to harden their opposition. What I'm really trying to figure out is what someone on the National Security Council is doing writing such a memo. I can't imagine that expelling Mr Higgins from Eden is going to get rid of the snake. It is hard to believe that Mr Higgins is the only one in the upper echelons to hold such views."