Foreign and national defense ministries around the world, as well as embassies in Washington, DC, are struggling to ascertain who is actually in charge of the U.S. government one month after Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the United States. It is a fair question, considering the conflicting statements issuing forth from the White House, State Department, and the Pentagon.
Suffice to say, there are, essentially, three Trump administrations, all with varying degrees of power.
The first administration and the most visibly powerful is Trump’s inner circle. At the present time, this consists of Trump, chief strategist Stephen Bannon, Trump daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, special assistant to the president Stephen Miller, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Although Bannon came to Trump from the presidential campaign of Senator Ted Cruz, the former Breitbart News publisher has become a virtual “Svengali,” influencing Trump on foreign and domestic policies.
The second administration represents the establishment Republicans who endorsed Trump after he secured the Republican presidential nomination. This circle includes White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the former Republican National Committee chairman, and Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary who had the same job at the Republican National Committee under Priebus. Trump’s counselor and former presidential campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who, like Bannon, came from the Cruz campaign, finds herself often on the outside of the Trump inner circle and more in the company of establishment Republicans Priebus and Spicer. Priebus and Conway, and, to a lesser extent, Spicer, are the eyes and ears of congressional Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan in the White House.
The third administration represents the longtime “deep state” interests and is a combination of George W. Bush/Ronald Reagan administration neoconservative activists and powerful Wall Street and Houston/Dallas oil business moguls traditionally linked to Republican politics. While the neocons and business interests do not agree on much, they are taking advantage of the disorganization of the Trump administration to secure their own power centers. Recently, officials of this “third” administration were seen vying for influence and stature at the 2017 Munich Security Conference.
It is clear that the third Trump administration is the one that hopes to take the reins of power if either Trump is forced out of the presidency as a result of impeachment and conviction or ill health. Representing the international status quo, the third Trump administration, represented chiefly by Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis, was very active in promoting NATO, the European Union, and continued sanctions on Russia at Munich. The statements by Pence and Mattis ran counter to the opinions previously aired by Trump. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, opting not to attend the Munich conference, attended a G20 foreign ministers’ summit in Bonn held before the gathering in Munich. This leg of the Trump triad is the one with which the global elites feel most comfortable.
Tillerson, a Texas native and friend of the Bush family and former Secretary of State James Baker, showed that the neocons continue to have clout inside the Trump administration when he dared propose Elliott Abrams, an Iran-contra felon from the Reagan administration, to be his deputy Secretary of State. Abrams’s campaign rhetoric, in which he criticized Trump, resulted in the president vetoing Abrams for the State Department’s number two position. But that did not stop another arch-neocon, the never-confirmed former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton, from being considered for number two at State and, more recently, as Trump’s national security adviser.
Tillerson’s ambassador to the United Nations, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, has publicly condemned Russia over the Ukraine situation, even though Trump has indicated he wants a rapprochement with Russia. The third Trump administration is full of similar contradictions, with paleo-conservatives like Tillerson willing to hire on neocons like Abrams. Other deep state players within this third leg of the Trump triad include Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo, who wasted no time traveling to Turkey and Saudi Arabia to pay homage to the vested political interests of both nations, and Director of National Intelligence director-designate, former Senator Dan Coats of Indiana, a longtime friend of Pence.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a retired three-star general, was never a member of the Trump inner circle. In fact, Flynn was closer to the neocons worming their way into the Trump administration. Flynn was the co-author of the book titled “The Field of Flight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies,” with one of the most dangerous neocons around, Michael Ledeen, an Iran-contra co-conspirator of Abrams and another neocon vying for influence in the Trump White House, Frank Gaffney.
Ensconced with Pence and Mattis in Munich were the two most hawkish Republican senators who would have Trump adopt even more drastic sanctions against Russia: Senators John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and fellow committee member Lindsey Graham. McCain used Munich to not only bash Russia but also Trump, while his close friend Graham promised that 2017 would be “the year of kicking Russia in the ass.” The mere fact that McCain and Graham were permitted to represent at Munich a hawkish policy at loggerheads with that of Trump, while Pence remained silent and Mattis championed America’s commitments to NATO and the EU, shows the world that the United States government now speaks through different voices. Joining McCain and Graham to reinforce U.S. defense and financial commitments was Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and former NATO commander and proposed Trump national security adviser General David Petraeus, previously disgraced by a sex scandal.
Munich provided the third Trump administration with a platform from which to reinforce the “world order” that Trump campaigned against. Governments that had donated handsomely to the Clinton Foundation, and made no secret of their abhorrence of Trump as a candidate, were on hand in Munich to warmly embrace Pence and Mattis. Among those in attendance were Saudi Arabia’s wily anti-Iranian foreign minister and former ambassador in Washington Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s more slyer former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Qatari foreign minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and defense minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, Bahraini foreign minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Khalifa, Kuwaiti deputy prime minister Shaikh Khaled al Jarrah al-Sabah, and Moroccan royal cabinet minister Youssef Amrani and the Moroccan king’s counselor André Azoulay. Undoubtedly, these Arab potentates will soon bestow their largesse upon members and corporate contrivances of the Trump family.
Pence and Mattis also rubbed shoulders at Munich with such influential anti-Trump personages as Bono, the U-2 rock band celebrity; former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; Ohio Governor John Kasich; former Defense Secretary William Cohen; Microsoft founder Bill Gates; Woodrow Wilson Center director Jane Harman; Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution and his wife and chief architect of the 2014 Ukrainian Coup Victoria Nuland; former Senator Joseph Lieberman; International Rescue Committee director David Miliband; Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse; ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff; and Frank Wisner, Jr., a longtime U.S. diplomat with deep state ties and the son of Frank Wisner, Sr., the CIA’s original crafter of “fake news,” CIA propaganda disguised as actual news.
And if Trump’s avid anti-globalist supporters believe that their president is “draining the swamp” of their bitterest of foes, they might be surprised that Pence and Mattis were in the company in Munich of Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Trilateral Commission deputy chairman Michael Fuchs, and global political troublemaker George Soros.
The third Trump administration of Pence, Mattis, and Tillerson signaled the world that the actual Trump administration, the one representing America’s “deep state,” will continue to run the U.S. government. This is the part of the Trump administration that will continue to conspire with the world’s elite at places like Bilderberg, Davos, Bohemian Grove, Cernobbio, APEC, and G-7. Trump has not “drained the swamp” as he promised. He has merely joined the reptiles already in it. In fact, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., who now head up the Trump Organization, recently opened a luxurious Trump golf course in Dubai. That set the ground for a very amiable meeting at the G20 meeting in Bonn between Tillerson and his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates. The French have a saying for Trump’s “revolution”—“plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” or “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
This article originally appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).