Sebastian Gorka, who served seven months as deputy assistant to President Trump, alongside former chief strategist Steve Bannon, sat down with Circa to talk about his time in the White House, the "deep state," the future of Trump's Make America Great Again agenda and the Washington, D.C. "bureaucratic swamp."
Question and Answer with Sebastian Gorka:
"That's why I predict that in the near future, before Christmas probably, there will be some very high-level personnel changes in the White House that are driven by the President."
Sara Carter: There's a lot of supporters who are concerned now that with the departure of both you and Mr. Steve Bannon, that the MAGA (Make America Great Again) agenda is gone. Is that true?
Sebastian Gorka: No, not at all. I know a lot of people are worried, a lot of people that, from the base felt that November the 8th was politically a revolutionary moment. The fact that Steve left and then a week later I resigned, I always tell people "relax." Count to 10. Take a deep breath. Whether or not the president's agenda succeeds isn't a function of where I sit or where Steve has an office. The president's supporters aren't just individuals who have to be inside the White House. They can be on the outside. And what, what a lot of Steve's critics didn't understand, who celebrated his resignation, Steve today is more powerful than he's ever been. It's like that scene from "Star Wars" when Ben Kenobi gets slain by Darth Vader. I will be more powerful than you can ever imagine. Steve Bannon is now the most powerful man outside of the Oval Office in America. I'm not joking, he is, because there are things you can do, legal things -- OK, relax Huffington Post -- there are legal things that you can do as a private citizen that you cannot do as a government employee.
"Steve [Bannon] today is more powerful than he's ever been. It's like that scene from Star Wars when Ben Kenobi gets slain by Darth Vader."
Sara Carter: But then access to the president, that's also very important?
Sebastian Gorka: Yes.
Sara Carter: So when you're not in the White House, you're outside the White House, how does that affect access?
Sebastian Gorka: OK. I'm not gonna give away any inside baseball, but let me give you an example. When I was deputy assistant to the president, I'd walk in and out of the Oval Office and I'd regularly see people like Corey Lewandowski, I'd see Dave Bossie in the Oval [Office] with the President. Now, neither of those individuals had a government ID card, neither of them worked for the White House, but they were in there with the president and I can assure you they weren't talking about the weather. So, one thing to know about the president, he is very loyal to those who have been loyal to him. And the idea that you can isolate Donald J. Trump from people he trusts who don't happen to be inside the building is, of course, absurd. So, the President talks to lots of different people and several of them do not work for the White House. So relax.
Sara Carter: This brings me to your resignation letter.
Sebastian Gorka: Yes.
Sara Carter: In your resignation letter you state that there are people ascendant within the White House that do not support the President's MAGA agenda? Explain that, and who are these people?
Sebastian Gorka: OK, so first things first, I'd like to try and explain what was special about November the 8th. And if you remember, there was a film, a great John Milius film called "Red Dawn" in the 80s about the Soviet Cuban invasion of America and the resistance that American patriots put up to it. The president of the United States won against the whole establishment on November the 8th. He was just accidentally the GOP's candidate. He had nothing to do with the swamp, nothing to do with the GOP, nobody took him seriously when he announced and what did he do? He proceeded to wipe the floor with 16 establishment GOP candidates and then defeat a woman who'd officially spent $700 million on a position she thought was owed to her.
"So what happened on November the 8th? It's like the wolverines from Red Dawn, a scrappy bunch of insurgents defeated the mighty empire that is the swamp."
This is the rank outsider. So what happened on November the 8th? It's like the wolverines from Red Dawn, a scrappy bunch of insurgents defeated the mighty empire that is the swamp. As a result, when we moved into the White House, Steve, myself, the president, it was the most leveraged, hostile takeover in political history in the modern age. Because it was a small group of people that came in to run the largest government in the run. Sorry, if you add the armed forces, millions of employees. So, what happened is a natural event. In the intervening months, the establishment figures reacted to the antibodies that represent the MAGA agenda and boxed us out, tried to cut us out of the policy agenda. Fired a lot of the more junior people in the NSC. That's the point at which Steve and then later I realized look, uh, this is about eight years of President Trump and then eight years of President Pence. We have to think about the long game.
And if right now we're being undermined internally, what we do is we go on the outside and we support the agenda from the outside. That's why I became the chief strategist for the Make America Great Again Coalition. That's why Steve is doing all kinds of things right now. That's why I predict that in the near future, before Christmas probably, there will be some very high-level personnel changes in the White House that are driven by the president. It's important to know, apart from [Robert] Mueller -- he's a holdover, ignore him -- every single, high-ranking or, or less than high-ranking firing in the last eight months was not driven by the president. OK? All those people fired from the NSC, [Anthony] Scaramucci, these were people who were fired by people other than the president. I think the president already realizes he's being given bad advice on key issues. The Alabama race tells you everything you need to know. And now he's going to get rid of some people who aren't on message and have nothing to do with the original agenda.
Sara Carter: Would one of those people happen to be Secretary of State [Rex] Tillerson?
Sebastian Gorka: The President reached out to me the day after I resigned. He thanked me for my service. He said he is gonna stick to the agenda and he'd like me to support him from the outside. That's exactly what I'm doing. One of the things I promised myself I wouldn't do is attack individual members of the cabinet who aren't part of the agenda. So, I'm not gonna talk about individuals just yet, but I'll talk about principles and the fact is, um, Tucker Carlson had a segment after Steve left the White House that I think is crucial to understanding the reality of what's going on in the West Wing.
I don't think Tucker Carlson is a big fan of Steve Bannon or Breitbart, I may be wrong, but he said one very trenchant thing. He said, "Whatever you think about Steve Bannon, there's one thing that's certain. He would not be at home in a White House under Hillary Clinton." There are people in the administration of Donald J. Trump who not only would have been at home in a Hillary Clinton White House, they would have been cabinet members in a Hillary White House. So that's the current problem, but again, relax. It's a temporary state of affairs.
"There are people in the administration of Donald J. Trump who not only would have been at home in a Hillary Clinton White House, they would have been cabinet members in a Hillary White House."
Sara Carter: So the president is surrounded, in your opinion, by some people that would have been comfortable in a Hillary Clinton White House and may be pushing those agendas?
Sebastian Gorka: The president has this sense, and I guarantee you right now, he knows who around him is now consistently giving him bad advice and sooner or later he will make decisions to remove those people from around him.
Sara Carter: Explain the "deep state."
Sebastian Gorka: I'm a little bit uncomfortable with the phrase "deep state." I love conspiracy theories but only as entertainment. There's a reason they're called theories. Conspiracy theories kill critical thought. I prefer the phrase "the deep state." The deep state isn't a conspiracy theory, it's a real thing. Let me give you an example. So, I didn't work in the NSC, I worked for Steve. I was a strategist in the office, or the chief strategist to the president. But because of my national security portfolio, I attended regular classified meetings with the NSC on whatever issue it was. The Qatar crisis, the ISIS plan, you name it.
And a pattern developed in these meetings which is really disturbing and explains the permanent state. You're sitting in, a White House meeting that is the pinnacle of policy making in the most powerful nation in the world. The NSC makes national security policy. There's nothing above it apart from, you know, the President and his National Security Advisor. You sit there for an hour, an hour-and-a-half, with key members of the NSC, invited guests from the CIA, DIA, outstations from the Pentagon, you name it. And for 90 minutes on a key issue, you didn't hear the name of the president. You didn't hear mention of the president's strategic objectives, and you didn't hear mention of what he said yesterday in Warsaw or Riyadh.
"The swamp is much more. The professional bureaucratic class in America that believes that they know better than the President elected by the people of America to run this country."
And it would be up to me, the guy with the funny accent, after 90 minutes to say, "Uh, hey guys. Did you hear what the President said yesterday in Riyadh about ISIS? Did you hear what the President said about NATO in Warsaw?" This is what the president wants to achieve and we're all gonna be on message, right? So what I saw is that the swamp isn't Capitol Hill. A lot of people think the swamp is the political professional class of congressmen and women. The swamp is much more. The professional bureaucratic class in America that believes that they know better than the president elected by the people of America to run this country. A GS14, a GS15 who's been at State Department or CIA for 20 years and thinks, "Oh, I, I've been doing this for so long. I don't care what the president says about Qatar, we need to do this. I don't care what the President says about X, Y, Z, we need to do this." That undermines American democracy and that's the permanent state, and that's what we have to push back on if democracy is to thrive in America.