Three-quarters of Americans believe that a group of unelected government and military officials secretly manipulate or direct policy in the United States, and President Trump blames the "deep state" for his impeachment. David Rohde explores the "deep state" and asks whether it really exists.
To conservatives, the "deep state" is a government bureaucracy that encroaches on the rights of Americans. Liberals fear a cabal of generals and defence contractors who they believe push the country into wars. Modern American presidents have engaged in power struggles with Congress, the CIA and the FBI. CIA and FBI directors suspect White House aides and members of Congress of leaking secrets. Citizens increasingly distrust the politicians, unelected officials and journalists who they believe set the country's political agenda. Now, in this time of heightened uncertainty, American democracy faces its biggest crisis of legitimacy in a half century.
In Deep examines the CIA and FBI scandals of the past fifty years. It then investigates the claims and counterclaims of the Trump era. While Donald Trump says he is the victim of the "deep state", Democrats accuse the president and his allies of running a de facto "deep state" of their own. Now more urgently than ever, the debate over the "deep state" raises questions about the future of American democracy.