• Former House speaker writes in memoir: ‘That’s horseshit’
  • Boehner is critical of Trump’s takeover of the Republican party

Donald Trump’s obsession with the Deep State conspiracy theory, which holds that a permanent secret government of bureaucrats and intelligence officials existed to thwart his agenda in office, was destructive and delusional, John Boehner says in a new book.

“Let me be diplomatic here,” the former speaker writes in the memoir, On the House. “That’s horseshit.”

Boehner’s view chimes with that of Steve Bannon, a key propagator of the theory who was Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016 and a senior White House strategist.

Trump, senior aide Stephen Miller and others have repeatedly blamed the Deep State for their problems. Bannon has said the theory is “for nut cases” and “none of this is true”.

Boehner was a congressman from Ohio for 24 years, a figure in the Washington firmament, House speaker from 2011 until his retirement in 2015 — a period he spent in fierce opposition to Barack Obama.

His memoir will be published next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

His criticism of Trump comes as no surprise, not least because an extract of the book ran in Politico last week. Boehner is heavily critical of Trump’s takeover of the Republican party. Leading figures in the pro-Trump establishment duly lashed back.

The Fox News host Sean Hannity responded to being called “one of the worst” by tweeting: “John Boehner will go down in history as one of the worst Republican speakers in history. He’s weak, timid and what’s up with all the crying John?”

Boehner was a famously lachrymose House speaker, apt to tear up in simple nostalgia or when in the presence of the pope.

Hannity added: “There was not a single time I was around him when he didn’t just reek of cigarette smoke and wine breath.”

Boehner plays up to his somewhat clubbable image, his cover image a portrait with wine glass and cigarette. But his rebuke over the Deep State theory, which Trump, key aides and reporters continue to espouse now he is out of power, may still sting.

Boehner examines the wellsprings of the theory, writing: “The Deep State as a boogeyman is not an idea the Trump Republicans invented out of whole cloth.

“As long as I’ve been in politics, politicians have railed against this group or that group in Washington as the villains standing in the way of whatever they’re trying to do. I too railed against ‘the establishment’ as a young hothead.”

Boehner says there is indeed “an entrenched bureaucracy that likes to protect the status quo”. But he says posturing against it took a “nastier turn” under Trump.

Even before the former president took up the lie about electoral fraud in his defeat by Joe Biden which was repeatedly thrown out of court but still sent supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol, he claimed the Deep State posed “a threat to democracy itself”.

Boehner calls such talk “very destructive — not to mention delusional,” and defends the work of most bureaucrats and also lobbyists.

“Playing hardball or ‘creative disruption’ or whatever you want to call it can and does work sometimes,” he writes. “Knee-jerk defenders of President Trump would often say that’s what he was up to whenever there was some new pronouncement of action that didn’t make sense.

“Well, they may have been right in some cases … but having to constantly point to the Deep State as this boogeyman responsible for all these problems just seems … weird.”

Source: Martin Pengelly, theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/06/john-boehner-book-trump-obsession-deep-state-conspiracy