From “Clinton’s Stooge” to Secret Insider

By Will Banyan, Copyright © 22 February 2017

“Trump is so obviously a Clinton plant and people just ignore the facts because right now he’s ‘telling it like it is’. More like he’s tell you what you want to hear at a time when people are desperate to hear any truth coming out of the American political-industrial complex.

Melissa Dykes, The Daily Sheeple, August 21, 2015

“Yes, Donald Trump is shrewd and really wants to sell himself as an outsider. He understands how to stir the many people who are unhappy. But when you get beyond the theatrics, he’s not really an outsider at all.”

Ron Paul, Ron Paul Liberty Report, March 21, 2016

Throughout much of last year’s campaign, the belief that Donald Trump truly represented not only a repudiation of the Establishment’s pro-globalization consensus, but was unsullied and unconnected to the elite’s overt and covert networks, had many adherents. Writing in the Siskiyou Daily News (Oct. 14, 2016), for example, columnist Nita Still accused President Obama and Hillary Clinton of being “mechanical creatures” of a network of “invisible major organizations” that included the Illuminati, the Committee of 300, Skull and Bones, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and the Bilderberg Group. Trump and Mike Pence, though, were not “part of this desperate, tangled web to deceive and conquer”, and therefore “should become our next president and vice president!” Texe Marrs claimed the Establishment was “frightened and in a panic” because Trump threatened to “overturn their New World Order applecart.” Infowars owner and Trump supporter Alex Jones, claimed in December 2015 to have heard from the “top people” that Trump was “for real”, that he was part of an internal war within the elite against the “globalists” who “want to have a world government”, and what he was doing was  “epic” and “George Washington level”.  Jones also issued numerous warnings that the “globalists” were plotting to assassinate Trump.

But even within what some mainstream media commentators assumed would be Trump’s natural constituency – the conspiratorially minded – this view was not unanimous. There was considerable suspicion about the fact he was a billionaire who was close to Wall Street and the Clintons and other members of the ruling classes he was running against; and then there were various alleged links to the American and Russian Mafias. There were two main theories expressing this scepticism: the first was that Trump was a “false-flag” candidate who was covertly working with the Clintons to put Hillary into the White House; while the second was that despite his bluster, Trump was actually a secret insider, possibly even a member of the Illuminati, who would promise everything, but actually change nothing.

“False Flag” For Hillary

Suspicions about the real purpose of Trump’s candidacy were being voiced within days of his apparently actor enhanced audience at Trump Tower. A combination of Trump’s prior well-documented relationship with the Clintons coupled with the certainty that he would surely lose, prompted many observers to speculate he was not what he seemed: that he was actually a “false flag” candidate for the Clintons, whose real objective was to wreck the Republicans and then deliberately lose the election. This theory was first generated by the mainstream media partly in an attempt to explain Trump’s gonzo candidacy. The Washington Post’s George Will, for example, openly speculated that Trump was a “Democratic mole”; after much consideration Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo concluded Trump had to be a “false flag candidate” who was sent to do Hillary’s dirty work; and The Hill’s Brent Budowsky suggested Trump must have been “encouraged” to run “in order to wreak havoc on the Republicans.”

This theory was even proposed by some Republicans, aiming to smear Trump for being too close to the Clintons. Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) painted Trump as “a phantom candidate recruited by the left to create this entire political circus” and whose prior financial support to the Clintons was “very suspicious” (Huffington Post, Jul. 15, 2015). Even the Bush Dynasty’s failed candidate, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, got in on the act, indulging in some tongue-in-cheek speculation on Twitter about a Trump-Clinton deal:

Bush’s attempt at mischief-making was echoed by the other failed candidate Carly Fiorina:

This theory was treated far more seriously by many conspiracists, who were suspicious of his extensive ties to the Clintons and did not believe he could possibly take the nomination nor defeat Hillary Clinton. Alex Jones’ Infowars, for example, ran a number of pieces on these lines early in the primary campaign (see Figure 1). Just after the first Republican debate, Paul Joseph Watson discounted Trump’s electoral chances and dismissed him as a “stooge for Hillary Clinton” (Infowars, Aug. 7, 2015). In a companion piece Watson argued Trump could prove to be the “very opposite” of the “anti-establishment maverick” he claimed to be (Prison Planet Aug. 7, 2015). InfoWars also ran a piece on the views of rival presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul, who dismissed Trump as a “fake conservative”, a “chameleon” and a “consummate insider” (Infowars, Aug. 10, 2015). This particularly line of enquiry was suddenly dropped a few months later when Alex Jones decided to back Trump.

Figure 1: Anti-Trump Headlines on Alex Jones’ Infowars

Melissa Dykes of the Daily Sheeple (Aug. 21, 2015) also dismissed Trump as a “Clinton operative”; Henry Makow claimed Trump’s role was to “win the GOP election and throw the election to Hillary Clinton.” Aangirfan asserted that Trump was “not what he seems” and was probably “the guy chosen to lose”; he “pretends to be anti-establishment” but he “never makes any serious attack on the powers-that-be.” Caitlin Johnstone, writing in Inquisitr, claimed Trump was “deliberately pushed to the forefront of the Republican race in a conspiracy between the Clinton campaign and their corporate media subordinates.”  David Icke (Figure 2) also alleged that Trump’s role was to “destroy the credibility of the Republican Party to open the way for his friend Hillary Clinton to become the next president.”

Figure 2: David Icke Commits to the Donald Trump ‘False Flag’ Theory

Aside from their seemingly reasonable conviction (reflecting the opinion of mainstream political analysts) that Trump could not win, proponents of this theory could point to plenty of circumstantial evidence there was a deal or arrangement between Trump and the Clintons. There were three pieces of evidence that were cited:

  • The first, was that Trump had a long record of backing Clinton politically and socialising with the Clintons. As detailed on the pro-Clinton website Vox (Aug. 16, 2016), Trump had “a long history (if not longer) of supporting [Hillary] Clinton than he does of blaming her for ruining the world.” For example: in his 1997 book The Art of the Comeback, Trump praised Hillary as a “wonderful woman who has handled pressure incredibly well”; in 2005 he invited Hillary and Bill Clinton to his third wedding; in the lead-up to the 2008 Democrat primaries he praised Hillary as “terrific”, wrote that she would “make a great president or vice-president” and during the Democrat primaries lauded her as “smart” and “tough” and even told Fox News: “I support Hillary. I think she’s fantastic.” He and his son Donald Trump Jr gave her political donations in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Trump’s total donations to Hillary’s Senate campaigns and her 2008 presidential run amounted to $12,500 (but he gave $77,500 to support Mitt Romney in 2012). In 2012 Trump told Fox News he thought Hillary was a “terrific woman” who “works hard” and “does a good job”; but admitted to being “biased” because he had “known her for years.” In 2009 the Donald J. Trump foundation gave $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
  • Second, there was also an oddly timed and “mysterious” private phone-call between Trump and Bill Clinton in late May 2015, just ahead of Trump’s announcement that he would run. According to the Washington Post ( 5, 2015) Clinton and Trump “had a private telephone conversation…at the same time that [Trump] was nearing a decision to run for the White House.” The Post’s sources – identified as “[f]our Trump allies and one Clinton associate” – claimed that “Clinton encouraged Trump’s efforts to play a larger role in the Republican Party and offered his own views on the political landscape.” However, Trump’s allies claimed that “Clinton never urged Trump to run”, while the Clinton source said the former president, who was “upbeat and encouraging”, had merely returned the call after Trump had “reached out to President Clinton a few times…” and “the presidential race was not discussed.”

    Both parties repeatedly denied there was anything sinister about the call. Appearing on “The Late Show” in July 2015 Bill Clinton rejected claims he had encouraged Trump’s political aspirations; instead, he said: “I had a very pleasant conversation with him, and it wasn’t about running for office.” Interviewed by the New York Times (Nov. 2, 2016) near the end of the campaign Trump also denied that Bill Clinton had urged him to run: “He didn’t say one way or the other.” But Trump was later contradicted by unnamed “Trumpsters” who claimed that Clinton had been “trying to talk Donald out of running because the former president knew that Trump could beat Hillary.” This was disputed in turn by an unnamed “former top aide” to the Clintons who asserted that “[Bill Clinton] doesn’t meddle like that, telling people to get in and get out. Trump shouldn’t flatter himself that Bill gave a damn one way or the other. Trump was just another guy on the call list.” Perhaps.

  • Finally, there is the so-called “Pied Piper” memo discovered in amongst the trove of thousands of emails (allegedly hacked by the Russians) from the account of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta, and subsequently released by Wikileaks. This memorandum was the agenda for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Strategy Call scheduled for April 23, 2015. The document (dated April 7, 2015) was sent on April 23, 2015 to Podesta, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook plus other senior members of the Clinton campaign:

    The key goal outlined in the memo was to “make whomever the Republicans nominate unpalatable to a majority of the electorate.” Three strategies were outlined to achieve this, including to: “Force all Republican candidates to lock themselves into extreme conservative positions that will hurt them in a general election.” The memo then looked at how to operationalize this strategy through “Pied Piper Candidates”:

    For false flag enthusiasts, such as Caitlin Johnstone (then at Inquistir), this document not only verified that Clinton had “handpicked Trump for her opponent” but that the DNC had “rigged the Republican primaries as well.” Johnstone also took issue with the two assumptions of the memo: that Clinton would inevitably win the Democrat primaries; and that “the media would do what they told them to do.” It was noteworthy the DNC “were so sure of their ability to place stories and control the media’s narrative that [it] wasn’t even a part of the discussion.” Other observers also pointed to the timing of the memo, given that it predated both Bill Clinton’s telephone call to Trump and Trump’s official announcement of his candidacy at Trump Tower in New York on June 16, 2015.

At first glance this evidence makes the theory of secret collusion between the Trump and Clinton camps with the objective of putting Hillary in the White House on the back of a Trump presidential run, seem plausible. Except that Trump’s shock victory instantly disproves this theory. Moreover, even if the DNC had moved on the “Pied Piper” proposal – though no evidence has emerged that this happened or that the DNC used its cosy relationship with the mainstream media to elevate Trump – this theory overlooks the fact that Trump had been actively planning to run in 2016 for quite some time. In fact, after suddenly pulling out of the 2012 election, Trump had been plotting another run for the White House since 2013.

By early 2015 well before his call with Clinton and the “Pied Piper memo”, he had: not renewed his contract with The Apprentice as he was “very seriously considering running” in the 2016 election (New Hampshire Union Leader, Feb. 27, 2015); set up in March a presidential exploratory committee and in April began hiring staff and had been road testing some of his campaign lines, including that most illegal immigrants from Mexico were “criminals”, a border fence should be built, and the US was losing in its trade deals with China, Japan and Mexico (CBS, Apr. 30, 2015). The final step in May-June was seeking affirmation from his (unidentified) “buddies in New York” on whether “he should really go ahead with it.” But Trump, reportedly obsessed with avoiding a damaging repeat of his brief foray into the 2012 campaign, had already decided that if he failed to run a second time, “nobody is ever going to believe me again” (Politico, Dec. 09, 2016).

The theory was also untenable because it misread Trump. As countless, less than-flattering media profiles, biographies and unethical attempts at armchair psychological analysis (in some cases without even being a specialist!) have highlighted, he is completely obsessed with winning and being the centre of attention. Throughout most of his business career, notes psychologist Professor Dan P. McAdams, “[Trump] has remained the ferocious combatant who fights to win.” According to the ghost writer of Trump’s The Art of the Deal (1987), who spent long periods observing the mogul up close, concluded the developer was driven by “an insatiable hunger for ‘money, praise, and celebrity’” and a “need for attention [that] is ‘completely compulsive’” (New Yorker, Jul. 25, 2016).

Trump himself has repeatedly reaffirmed his unrelenting drive to win: “When I do something, I like to win”, Trump told an NBC reporter in 1988 about his presidential ambitions; “Because I want to win, and I’ll do whatever it takes to win”, Trump said in 2004 to explain why he was at a private launch of a Trump clothing line (Trump Revealed, p.233); in December 2015 Trump told ABC he “expected to win” the Republican nomination, “Otherwise we wouldn’t be running. I like to win”; and early last year in an interview with Breitbart (Jan. 11, 2016) Trump reaffirmed that he was a serious candidate, explaining that, “My life has been about winning. I like to win.”

The notion that Trump, consumed by a desire to always be the winner, would be willing to lose the greatest contest of his life to benefit Hillary Clinton, stretches credibility. Not surprisingly the “Clinton stooge” was quietly abandoned by most of its proponents once the shock election result was known. But there was another far more durable theory that this billionaire real estate mogul was actually just another “Insider”.

The “Secret Insider”

The claims against Trumps “outsider” status were based on more than the mere fact he was billionaire, but a close appraisal of whom he had associated with since the 1970s. Although he seemed to be alienated from the institutions of the Establishment, specifically leading think-tanks and elite policy-planning forums, Trump did still did business and socialised with many of the other plutocrats, politicians and political fixers that circulated in that realm. Other commentators, often for partisan reasons, focused on his more unsavoury associations, particularly with representatives of organized crime to paint a picture, not of an “everyman”, but of yet another corrupt and unscrupulous businessman. In short, Trump was just too tied in with the very networks he was attacking to be taken seriously as the “outsider” who could fix it.

Freelance analyst, Steven Macmillan writing on Counterpunch, for example, found some “troublesome connections to the neocons, Wall Street [George] Soros and the CFR” amongst Trump’s foreign and economic policy advisors. This included Trump’s private meetings last year with Kissinger and the current President of the CFR, Richard Haass; and the presence of on his advisory team of neo-conservative and former Blackwater executive Joseph E. Schmitz, former Goldman Sachs partner, Steven Mnunchin and a number of other CEOs and billionaires including John Paulson (CFR, Bear Stearns, Paulson & Co.), Stephen Feinberg (Cerbrus Capital Management) and Wilbur Ross (formerly of Rothschild Inc.).

A scathing critique of Trump came from conservative commentator Andrew McCarthy in the National Review (Apr. 30, 2016) who argued that contrary to his public image, “Trump is the Washington Establishment.”  The primary evidence of this was in Trump’s role as a key funder of the Washington Establishment: “The Donald Trumps who pay the freight are the Washington establishment’s lifeblood. They are joined to the officeholders at the hip…” McCarthy focused on Trump’s strategic funding of GOP adversaries and claimed his talk about forcibly deporting illegal immigrants was undercut by his previous opposition to such a policy and amnesty was more likely. Trump, he insisted, “is the Washington establishment, the very embodiment of its progressive pieties, cloaked in tough-guy bravado.”

Other mainstream journalists were more concerned with Trump’s links to various organized crime figures in New York and Atlantic City, covering his construction and casino activities in the 1980s. Investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, who had covered Trump sporadically for over 27 years claims to have found “multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime.” According to Johnston,

Trump’s career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service (Politico, May 22, 2016)

An examination of Trump’s business career by the Wall Street Journal (Sep. 01, 2016), also found that he had extensive dealings with:

a man described by law enforcement as an agent of the Philadelphia mob; a gambler convicted of tax fraud and barred from New York racetracks; a union leader found guilty of racketeering; and a real-estate developer convicted in a stock scheme that involved several Mafiosi.

David Corn, writing on Mother Jones, detailed numerous instances where Trump had lied about his various associations with organized crime figures “even when he was under oath.”

A key Clinton confidante, Sidney Blumenthal, in a lengthy post-inauguration piece in the London Review of Books (16 February 2017) made a valiant attempt to tie together much of this information, particularly the “flagrant mob associations”, to portray Trump, not as a member of New York’s upper crust, but as a crude “faux aristocrat” and borderline criminal:

What he represents, above all, is the triumph of an underworld of predators, hustlers, mobsters, clubhouse politicians and tabloid sleaze that festered in a corner of New York City, a vindication of his mentor, the Mafia lawyer Roy Cohn, a figure unknown to the vast majority of enthusiasts who jammed Trump’s rallies and hailed him as the authentic voice of the people.

“From beginning to end,” wrote Blumenthal, “whether Cosa Nostra or the Russian Mafia, Trump has been married to the Mob.” Trump’s business had been “dependent from the start on real life gangsters.” Since the 1980s Trump had dealt directly or indirectly through their companies or associates, with a roster of mob figures including:  Anthony ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, boss of the Genovese crime family; Paul ‘Big Paulie’ Castellano boss of the Gambino crime family; Philadelphia crime bosses Nicodemos ‘Nicky’ Scarfo and Salvatore ‘Salvie’ Testa; and Russian mafia money launderer Felix Sater.

Many of these links were also cited by former US Army officer Joachim Hagopian, in a piece on Lew Rockwell’s site, who argued despite not even being the Republican establishment’s second choice Trump was “every bit an insider.” After detailing Trump’s long-term relationship with notorious mob lawyer and adviser Roy Cohn, Hagopian observed:

Trump has run with the Manhattan and Palm Beach high rolling powerbrokers that loot through organized crime and loot through Wall Street banking as legalized organized crime. In essence, Donald Trump is clearly not an outsider at all to the established East Coast financial robber barons and shares a checkered past steeped deep in both gangsters and banksters.

Hagopian also found further evidence of this in Trump’s choice as his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a “longtime Republican insider and globalist”, who was probably forced onto Trump by the GOP establishment and another “globalist operative behind [the] inexperienced Beltway frontman.” Moreover Trump’s transition team was dominated by “insider lobbyists from Goldman Sachs, Koch (brothers) Industries, Aetna and Verizon…” and his rumoured cabinet seemed to consist of “a cast of neocon has-beens, bootlicking GOP hangers-on and elitist insiders, offering little hope for the home team Americans he pledged to fight for.” Trump, he concluded, “is looking more every day like ‘same as the old boss’ and oligarchy business as usual.”

In fact, Trump’s new running mate was greeted with widespread suspicion. On Infowars Kurt Nimmo denounced Pence as “a globalist neocon who should have no place in a Trump administration”, while Alex Jones suggested Pence had been chosen in an attempt by Trump to appease the GOP Establishment. Alex Newman at the John Birch Society’s The New American (Jul. 15, 2016) had also expressed concern about Pence’s Congressional record, noting he had repeatedly “sided with establishment globalists and neocons rather than the Constitution.” Pence had supported amnesty schemes for illegal immigrants, opposed Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration, and had backed “sovereignty destroying ‘free-trade’ schemes” such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and NAFTA. In selecting Pence, in an attempt to “mollify the establishment”, Newman feared Trump may have “hurt his own campaign.”

Some analysts spotted other connections of note. In May last year the conspiracy blogger Aangirfan asserted that Trump was “linked to the Bilderberg and Trilateral Commission.” That nature of these links was not through Trump’s (non-existent) membership of these august elite bodies, but his praise for former Federal Reserve Chairman and Trilateral and Bilderberg participant Paul Volcker; and Trump’s reportedly “very close” relationship with Henry Kissinger, who was a regular on the Bilderberg/Trilateral circuit. Then in October last year, Aangirfan noted that both “Clinton and Trump have wealthy and powerful backers.” In the Trump camp this included 14 billionaires and some “very powerful people”, mostly former US Government officials and politicians including John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, Michael Leedeen, and John R. Bolton. After nearly a month of President Trump, Aangirfan has updated his assessment declaring: “Trump was chosen by the Deep State at least 15 years ago. The US elections were rigged to put Trump into power.” He suggested there was an ethnic angle to this noting that “Allegedly, the German-Americans run the world” and that “German-Americans, many of them Jewish in origin, have wielded greater power in the USA and abroad.” Trump is of course, of German descent through his father’s side.

Aangirfan also claimed that Donald Trump was “involved” with the “World Knowledge Forum”, which he described as “a Bilderberg-style group which meets to discuss world problems.” The listing of names, though, was inaccurate. It was actually one of Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr, who attended and spoke at the World Knowledge Forum in 2010:

Also focusing on Trump’s various business connections was Makia Freeman, editor of The Freedom Articles, who portrayed Trump as yet another GOP candidate with “ties to the Rothschilds” who had “socialized and cut business deals with the wealthy Manhattan elite for decades.” He had “copious ties to NWO-related people and agendas” making it a “stretch to call him an outsider, even if he may not be a full insider.” Freeman also repeated allegations, raised by the late Michael Collins Piper, that Trump was compromised through his acquisition in 1987 of Resorts International, a company

established and controlled by front men for the Rockefeller and Rothschild families and their “enforcers” in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its allied intelligence agency, Israel’s Mossad.

Other conspiracists, such as David Vose, have speculated that Trump is secretly an Illuminati member, mainly based on the analysis of Trump’s hand movements. Vigilant Citizen, after describing Trump’s victory as unexpected given that “All of the odds were against him” nevertheless warned that despite Trump appearing to be in conflict with the “world’s elite”, he will “most likely be used to advance its agenda.”

Elite Factionalism, Not Anti-Elitism

As with the Clinton stooge theory, the notion that Trump was and is a secretly an “insider” or a puppet of the “hidden hand”, has its problems. Much of this commentary fails to account for the torrent of vitriol from the various arms of the Establishment that was directed at Trump during the campaign (detailed in Part 1), and that has continued through the transition and now into the first month of his presidency. As one of Trump’s allies, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich explained, Trump is disliked by the “establishment” because he was: “an outsider, he’s not them, he’s not part of the club, he’s uncontrollable, he hasn’t been through the initiation rites, he didn’t belong to the secret society” (Infowars, Mar. 04, 2016).

This would seem to be, by some measures, an entirely accurate statement. Putting aside Trump’s crude attempts at buying political access and influence to shore up his real estate plans, he has been noticeably absent from the core of the Establishment: the network of think-tanks, policy-planning organisations and secret fraternities that ties its members together and shape policy consensus in Washington DC. There is no record of Trump being involved with Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group, Skull & Bones or the Bohemian Grove. Indeed, despite the anti-Washington Insider rhetoric, Trump seems to have shown little interest or awareness of such groups.

Through his Donald J. Trump Foundation, Trump did make a number of politically motivated donations to various conservative organizations between 2011 and 2014, which later had him as speaker. These groups included: Family Leader; Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; American Conservative Union Foundation; Citizens United Foundation; and the Economic Club of Washington, D.C (RealClear Politics, Oct. 04, 2016). But Trump just used these groups to promote himself and float the idea of a presidential run. At the Economic Club on December 14, 2015, for example, Trump said he would “rather do what I’m doing than run for President” but he also “love[d] the country more” and unless he saw “somebody that’s outstanding, I would very much be inclined to do it.”

Even in his home ground of New York, Trump was something of an oddity, he was rich enough to be part of New York’s elite scene, yet remained a socially maligned billionaire outsider. An unnamed “top New York foundation official” told the New York Times Magazine (Nov. 02, 2016), for example, that “in the community of plutocrats and superachievers who come to New York, Donald Trump is seen as persona non grata. He’s not a civic leader.” But this was more to do with his conduct, with Trump’s obsession with building his brand and his failure to devote time and money to benevolent civic activities. According to the Times, “Trump has turned off many people in the worlds of real estate, banking and law with his strong-arming, fee-shaving or stiffing, bankruptcies and litigiousness.” An anonymous “top media mogul” described Trump as a “bridge-and-tunnel person” who had “always been a poseur in New York”, and had obviously failed to impress.

But, as the above pieces of analysis also illustrate, it would be wrong to portray Trump as somehow untouched by the networks of power he was running against. Indeed, it was indisputable that even though he was despised on a personal level, Trump was and is part of the 1% that effectively runs the US, if not the world, that corrupts the electoral process and government operations generally. He is really only an “outsider”, in the very limited sense of not being part of deeply embedded in its institutional networks and through his recent opposition to the liberal internationalist or liberal cosmopolitan faction that still dominates the Establishment. Moreover, as Trump had lamented in 2015, it seems that his public attacks on the Establishment had pushed him out:

I want the establishment — look, I was part of the establishment.  Let me explain. I was the establishment two months ago. I was like the fair haired boy. I was a giver, a big giver. Once I decided to run all of a sudden I’m sort of semi anti-establishment [emphasis added].

More recent research has attempted to describe Trump’s relationship with the rest of the power-elite in terms of factional allegiance. Some have now decided that Trump is not so much an “outsider” but as leading a “dissident” faction within the US “Deep State”. British researcher Nafeez Ahmed, for example, argues that Trump is “not operating outside of the Deep State but mobilizing elements, within it to dominate and strengthen it for a new mission.” In this light Trump is “not acting to overturn the establishment, but to consolidate it, against a perceived crisis of a wider transnational Deep System” (Medium, Feb. 11, 2017). Peter Dale Scott, a long-term researcher into the “Deep State” also characterises Trump’s support base as the “dissident big money faction of the deep state” and argues that his ascendency represents another phase in the struggle between the “America Firsters” and the “New World Order” globalist factions (Who.What.Why, Feb. 06, 2017).

By this calculus, Trump represents the triumph of an elite faction rather than true anti-elitist victory by the people. This can be seen in the critical support Trump both welcomed and in some cases actively sought from billionaires and other insiders throughout the campaign; the fact that some of these people are now part of his administration; and his curious indifference to the Establishment affiliations of any of his appointees. It is becoming increasingly difficult to see Trump as an “outsider”, except on ideological grounds, otherwise he acts like an elite populist who has successfully gamed the system to put his own faction into power…

To be continued in Part Three.