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Ted Cruz takes ‘deep state’ gospel to establishment Washington

After pro forma duties, Texas Republican rails against State, Treasury departments

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday warned of deep state influence while speaking at the Hudson Institute in Washington. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday warned of deep state influence while speaking at the Hudson Institute in Washington. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

During a quick swing through Washington, Sen. Ted Cruz took time Tuesday to tout his belief that the so-called deep state within the Treasury and State departments is working to confound the Trump administration’s efforts to end the Iran nuclear deal.

After presiding over an uneventful pro forma session at the Senate, the Texas Republican spoke at an event at the Hudson Institute focused on foreign policy and tensions between conservatives who believe in intervention and those who take a more isolationist approach.

“I’m here to tell you the deep state is alive and well,” he told a packed room at the conservative think tank.

Those sharing Cruz’s belief in the deep state say there is a body of career civil servants within federal agencies who hold extreme loyalty to the Obama administration and are involved in secret manipulation of the government to thwart President Donald Trump’s policies and agenda.

Cruz, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, pointed to efforts by the Treasury and State departments to preserve certain elements of the Iran nuclear deal, an Obama-era agreement that Trump has railed against and withdrew the United States from in May 2018.

In late July, White House national security adviser John Bolton announced that the U.S. would renew sanctions waivers for Iranian nuclear programs that allow Russia, China and European countries to continue their civilian nuclear cooperation with Tehran. Cruz views this as the work of the deep state.

“The No. 1 objective of the deep state at the Department of State and at the Department of Treasury is to preserve the disastrous Obama Iran nuclear deal. Every single day the deep state at Treasury and State is working to frustrate President Trump’s decision,” the senator said.

Cruz described such State and Treasury staffers as motivated to keep the Iran deal “on life support” so it can be fully implemented were a Democrat to win the White House in 2020.

“At this point, their objective is just wait out Donald Trump,” Cruz said. 

Earlier this year, Cruz unsuccessfully tried to get Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of State for arms control and international security, to publicly explain the rationale for continuing to grant waivers to nations still part of the multinational nuclear deal to cooperate with Iranian scientists on nonproliferation research at three Iranian atomic sites. Cruz argued that because the administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord over a year ago, it was long past time to end the waivers.

He had a message Tuesday for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: Don’t be duped by the French. He referenced Mnuchin’s meeting Tuesday morning with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, and Cruz said that France is pushing for a further loosening of civilian nuclear waivers.

“The White House might be fooled into accepting this. I hope and pray that is not the case,” Cruz said. “I hope and pray that Steven Mnuchin is not deceived.”

He warned that such a deal would benefit French companies but endanger U.S. interests and lead Mnuchin to becoming “the Neville Chamberlain of the modern day.”

“There’s a reason that nobody studies at the Neville Chamberlain School of Foreign Policy,” Cruz said.

An official Treasury Department readout of the meeting between Mnuchin and Le Maire did not include any mention of sanctions or the Iran deal. 

Rachel Oswald contributed to this report. 

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