James B. Stewart: The Truth About the ‘Deep State,’ Donald Trump, and Jeffrey Epstein

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James B. Stewart spent quality time with both Hillary Clinton during her husband’s first term in the 1990s and Donald Trump in the late 1980s.” data-reactid=”16″>Early in his career covering the financial industry, law enforcement and the unsightly pageant of American politics, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James B. Stewart spent quality time with both Hillary Clinton during her husband’s first term in the 1990s and Donald Trump in the late 1980s.

Bill Clinton, was bitterly resentful of media scrutiny and had hoped to enlist Stewart—a best-selling author whose just-published 10th book is Deep State: Trump, The FBI, and The Rule of Law—to expose the rank unfairness of the press coverage of the Clintons and certify their probity and honesty. ” data-reactid=”17″>One was an activist first lady who, like Bill Clinton, was bitterly resentful of media scrutiny and had hoped to enlist Stewart—a best-selling author whose just-published 10th book is Deep State: Trump, The FBI, and The Rule of Law—to expose the rank unfairness of the press coverage of the Clintons and certify their probity and honesty. 

Neither the Clintons nor Trump succeeded.

Stephen Colbert Mocks Trump Administration’s ‘Deep State’ Paranoia” data-reactid=”20″>Stephen Colbert Mocks Trump Administration’s ‘Deep State’ Paranoia

“He invited me up to Trump Tower and said, ‘This is completely off the record, deep background,’” Stewart told The Daily Beast. “And then we’re sitting there and the secretary walked in and said ‘Mrs. So-and-so is here.’ And Trump says, ‘Show her in’—so much for being deep background, off-the-record. And so she walked in and he said, ‘This is Mrs. So-and-so’—I don’t remember her name, but she was from the Philippines—‘and she is the richest woman in the world.’ And I thought, ‘Ohhh, interesting, I never heard of her. I thought the Queen was the richest woman in the world.’ 

“He was always trying to get me to take something,” Stewart said. “Fortunately, I had no interest in boxing. I had no interest in gambling.”

He said he was currently toiling on an investigative report concerning the late Jeffrey Epstein, the plutocrat-pedophile whom Stewart visited at his Upper East Side mansion in August 2018. Stewart refused to provide details on his research or when he hopes to publish.

“It’s at a delicate stage,” he said.

wrote a controversial column about their off-the-record encounter. At the time Stewart explained that he’d met with Epstein because he was trying to ascertain if rumors were true that Tesla tycoon Elon Musk had asked the convicted sex offender to represent him in his search for a new CEO, and concluded that there was no credible evidence for that.” data-reactid=”27″>In August, after Epstein was found hanged in his jail cell, apparently by his own hand, Stewart wrote a controversial column about their off-the-record encounter. At the time Stewart explained that he’d met with Epstein because he was trying to ascertain if rumors were true that Tesla tycoon Elon Musk had asked the convicted sex offender to represent him in his search for a new CEO, and concluded that there was no credible evidence for that.

Stewart wrote that he declined Epstein’s offer to cooperate with a book-length biography, and also spurned Epstein’s invitation to have dinner with him, Michael Wolff and Woody Allen. Stewart told The Daily Beast that such an encounter would have been journalistically useless, to say nothing of the unattractive optics.

“How creepy is that?” he scoffed. 

Stewart won’t say precisely who cooperated with his latest book, beyond on-the-record interviews with fired FBI Director James Comey and, surprisingly, Steve Bannon—who makes a cameo appearance to mock the “Deep State” conspiracy theory, embraced by Trump, that a cabal of faceless government bureaucrats are staging a secret coup against the duly elected president.

The “deep state conspiracy theory is for nut cases,” Stewart approvingly quotes Bannon. “America isn’t Turkey or Egypt,” Bannon says, adding that while there’s an entrenched bureaucracy, “there’s nothing ‘deep’ about it. It’s right in your face.”

Comey, meanwhile, tells Stewart: “There’s no Deep State looking to bring down elected officials and political leaders that represents a deep-seated center of power… But it’s true in a way that should cause Americans to sleep better at night. There’s a culture in the military, in the intelligence agencies, and in law enforcement that’s rooted in the rule of law and reverence for the Constitution.”

Andrew McCabe (who wrote his own book about recent events) and former FBI in-house counsel Lisa Page and top agent Peter Strzok, the so-called “gaga lovers,” per Trump’s toxic Twitter feed.” data-reactid=”35″>A careful reading of Deep State suggests that Stewart managed to secure the cooperation of Comey’s fired interim successor, former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe (who wrote his own book about recent events) and former FBI in-house counsel Lisa Page and top agent Peter Strzok, the so-called “gaga lovers,” per Trump’s toxic Twitter feed.

Page and Strzok lost their jobs after the public release of text messages in which the two, who were married to other people, not only indicated they’d been having an affair, but were insulting and critical of the former reality television star who went on to become the 45th president.

“America depends on institutions,” Stewart said about the overarching theme of Deep State. “And it depends on people functioning in those institutions whose first loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law—not to an individual who may happen to be president at one time or another. I want people to understand that and respect the fact when people act on behalf of the interests of the Constitution and the American people, it’s not an act of betrayal. It’s the highest form of patriotism.”

Susan Thomases, then a securities lawyer and managing partner at the blue-chip law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, arranged a meeting between Stewart and the first couple at the White House.” data-reactid=”38″>A few years after that Trump Tower meeting, during Bill Clinton’s first term as the 42nd president, Hillary’s close friend Susan Thomases, then a securities lawyer and managing partner at the blue-chip law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, arranged a meeting between Stewart and the first couple at the White House.

the conspiracy theory-inducing suicide of deputy White House counsel and Hillary intimate Vince Foster. “They sent an emissary [Thomases] to me saying, ‘We’re being persecuted by the press,’ and she said, ‘They want you to do a book and they have nothing to hide. They’ll show you everything.’” data-reactid=”39″>“They initiated my book,” Stewart said, referring to Blood Sport, his 1997 best-seller that chronicled the pre-Monica Lewinsky scandals, which included the conspiracy theory-inducing suicide of deputy White House counsel and Hillary intimate Vince Foster. “They sent an emissary [Thomases] to me saying, ‘We’re being persecuted by the press,’ and she said, ‘They want you to do a book and they have nothing to hide. They’ll show you everything.’

“So I went to the White House and met them—Bill was delayed, delayed, delayed, and finally popped in to say hi—and I spent most of the time with Hillary… They were supposed to be interviewing me. But Hillary did all the talking. ‘We’re being persecuted. The media’s so unfair. We have nothing to hide.’

“And I chimed in and said, ‘I hope that’s true, because I’m going to do my usual thorough job, and once I go down this path and sign a deal, this is my livelihood, there’s no turning back.’ And she said, ‘Oh yeah, we understand that. That’s fine.’ That was the high-water mark of our relationship.”

When the Clintons failed to provide promised documents and canceled scheduled interviews, Stewart decamped to Little Rock, Arkansas, “and everybody was eager to talk,” he recalled. “And somehow word got back to the White House that I spoke to the state troopers [who were members of Bill Clinton’s security detail when he was Arkansas governor]. I did talk to the troopers. I was talking to everybody, and boy, did I get an earful.”

Stewart soon had the strange feeling that his movements in Little Rock were being monitored by a local network of Clinton loyalists. “Every time I came out of my hotel, I think somebody reported back to the White House. I later heard that the minute they [the Clintons] heard I talked to the troopers, it was over. And they never spoke to me again.”

Decades later, Trump and the Clintons are central figures in Stewart’s latest book, from which neither party emerges unscathed. 

On the other hand, Comey, whom Stewart has known and reported on since Comey’s days as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, comes across as something of a hero—albeit a flawed one—who risked his career and reputation in order to resist Trump’s misuse of presidential power.

“All the behavior that Trump has now exhibited is amply dramatized in my book,” he said. “He’s impulsive. He doesn’t listen to people giving him advice—even more so now. The minute he’s caught red-handed, he immediately—in Roy Cohn fashion—turns the attack on the people who are criticizing him. If you reveal embarrassing behavior by him, you’re a quote-unquote traitor, with the implication that you should be given some kind of death penalty. And he lies constantly. Constantly. All that behavior is here.”

Ever loquacious—after Lynch welcomed him aboard against her better judgment—the former president ignored the attorney general’s repeated protests that she had to go, took a seat in the cabin and talked her ear off about the Arizona heat, Brexit, globalization, West Virginia coal miners, and other weird topics.

“That Bill Clinton would be so tone-deaf as to initiate an extended private conversation with the attorney general, the very person weighing criminal charges against his wife, just five days before her FBI interview astonished Lynch’s staff,” Stewart writes.

Stewart told The Daily Beast: “Oh my God, Clinton! I’m sure it’s subconscious… The person with him said, ‘I don’t think it’s such a good idea,’ and yet he bludgeons his way up there, plops down, lingers for such a long period of time that it made everyone question, ‘What the hell are they talking about?’ Was he trying to undermine his wife? That’s crazy! He couldn’t have done a better job. It was a disaster for her.”

Rod Rosenstein—who was widely portrayed in the press as “honorable” and “a straight-shooter” when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the ongoing Russia investigation and Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel.” data-reactid=”54″>Arguably, however, the person who comes out worst of all is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—who was widely portrayed in the press as “honorable” and “a straight-shooter” when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the ongoing Russia investigation and Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel.

“Look, he was in an impossible situation. What should he have done in his position?” Stewart said, citing the notorious memo Trump ordered Rosenstein to write as the justification for sacking James Comey—i.e., that the FBI director had overstepped his authority and violated Justice Department policy in the bureau’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

“I guess if it was me, I would have resigned the day of [Trump’s] phony story that, ‘The reason I’m firing Comey is because of the way he dealt with the Clintons’,” Stewart continued. “What happened to Rosenstein the following week? Obviously he was deeply upset and bouncing off the walls and coming up with these wild ideas”—notably Rosenstein’s suggestion that Cabinet officials be persuaded to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump as president, and his offer to wear a wire into the Oval Office to catch Trump saying something incriminating.

In neither case was Rosenstein joking, Stewart’s books recounts—contradicting Rosenstein’s spin that he was merely being “sarcastic.”

“He was coming unglued. By the way, there are many witnesses to this,” Stewart pointed out.

“And, oh my God, does that turn out to be true,” Stewart told The Daily Beast. “There were two occasions when people were writing the stories that Rosenstein was going to be fired”—after Rosenstein’s “wild ideas” were widely reported. “He goes in for a one-on-one with Trump and miraculously he comes out with his job intact.”

Noting that Rosenstein was Mueller’s boss, Stewart said that if Mueller had agreed to speak to him for the book—which he didn’t—“there are two questions I wanted to ask him. One is, why isn’t Rosenstein in the Mueller report except in passing? None of that stuff about the week after [Comey’s firing] is in there. Everybody I interviewed was interviewed by Mueller, so I know he knows the whole story. So Rosenstein was mysteriously spared in the Mueller report.”

Stewart’s second question: “Why didn’t Mueller insist on testimony from Trump specifically on obstruction of justice? Because he allowed Trump to refuse to testify about obstruction. No prosecutor I know would accept a deal like that. There are communications between Mueller and Rosenstein and Rosenstein and Trump that I don’t know. All I know is that whatever Rosenstein said to Trump, he kept his job.”

Stewart speculated that because the president was keenly aware that Rosenstein had recommended removing him from office and offered to wear a wire to gather evidence against him. “It’s inconceivable that Trump would have kept him on if he wasn’t able to use that leverage to get something in return. Again, I’m not privy to those conversations. But if I was a fly on the wall, the one thing I would have loved to have heard is the back and forth between the two of them.”

Deep State: Trump, The FBI and The Rule of Law by James B. Stewart is published by Penguin Press.” data-reactid=”64″>Deep State: Trump, The FBI and The Rule of Law by James B. Stewart is published by Penguin Press.

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