Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that he "does not believe there is a deep state" at the State Department or the CIA -- contradicting President Donald Trump's repeated assertion that there are forces within the government conspiring against him.
Just hours after Trump tweeted about the existence of a "criminal deep state" within the government seeking to sabotage his presidency, Pompeo was asked point blank by lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee whether believes there is a deep state at the State Department.
"I don't believe there is a deep state at the State Department," Pompeo responded, adding that he had not seen the President's comments.
Pompeo was also asked if a "deep state" existed at the CIA where he formerly served as director.
"You know this term 'deep state' has been thrown around. I'll say this. The employees who worked with me at the CIA nearly uniformly were aimed at achieving the President's objectives and America's objectives," he said.
"There are always exceptions to every rule," Pompeo added. "I've never led an organization that didn't have bad actors, I don't think any government organization is exempt from having malfeasance as well."
But when questioned by California Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu whether his colleagues across the federal government -- including the FBI and Justice Department -- were "honoring their oaths to the United States Constitution," Pompeo responded, "Yeah, in general, yes sir."
Trump and his political allies have made accusations about a shadowy entity within the government bureaucracy bent on de-legitimizing his administration since his inauguration.
And the unsubstantiated claim has largely fueled some of the President's most controversial attacks against the government he runs -- including charges that the FBI secretly placed a confidential source in his 2016 campaign.
"Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State," Trump tweeted on Wednesday. "They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!"
Then, Trump went even more dramatic: "SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!"
US officials have told CNN there was no such source planted inside Trump's campaign to provide information to investigators. But Trump has raged over the story nonetheless.