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Analysis: Trump’s War on Expertise Is Only Intensifying

But his attacks on career government officials could backfire with an ever more educated electorate.

In the fierce struggle over impeachment, Donald Trump and his Republican defenders are escalating their war on expertise.

As an array of career diplomatic and military officials offer damning testimony against Trump—a procession that will continue today with the appearance of former National Security Council adviser Fiona Hill—the GOP is reprising arguments from 20th-century conservative populists that portray experts as untrustworthy and contemptuous elites out to subvert the will of ordinary Americans. The challenge Trump faces is that such attacks may backfire among the growing number of Americans with advanced degrees, a population that is now much larger than when such conservative firebrands as Joseph McCarthy and George Wallace wielded similar arguments decades ago.

Trump’s strategy has been on vivid display in recent weeks, including in his tweet denigrating former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; the pointed insinuation by House Republicans that Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman isn’t a loyal American; and the president’s insistence last month that “deep-state bureaucrats” have conspired in an “unholy alliance” with “corrupt Democrat politicians … and the fake-news media” to instigate the impeachment inquiry.