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Stephen Miller (political advisor)

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Stephen Miller
Stephen miller june 2016 cropped corrected.jpg
Senior Advisor to the President
Assumed office
January 20, 2017
Serving with Jared Kushner
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded by
White House Director of Speechwriting
Assumed office
January 20, 2017
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byCody Keenan
Personal details
Born (1985-08-23) August 23, 1985 (age 33)[1]
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationDuke University (BA)

Stephen Miller (born August 23, 1985) is an American far-right[1][2] political activist who serves as a senior advisor for policy for President Donald Trump.[3] He was previously the communications director for then-Senator Jeff Sessions. He was also a press secretary for Republican Representatives Michele Bachmann and John Shadegg.

As a speechwriter for Trump, Miller helped write Trump's inaugural address.[4][5][6] He has been a key adviser since the early days of Trump's presidency. Miller was a chief architect of Trump's travel ban,[7][8][9] the administration's reduction of refugees accepted to the United States,[10] and Trump's policy of separating migrant children from their parents.[11] On February 12, 2017, he appeared to question the power of the judiciary to limit the executive's role in setting immigration policy.[12]

Miller has on multiple occasions made false and unsubstantiated claims regarding widespread electoral fraud.[5][13][14]

Early life

Miller was born on August 23, 1985, and grew up in a Jewish family in Santa Monica, California.[1] He is the second of three children born to Michael D. Miller, a real estate investor, and Miriam (Glosser) Miller. His mother's family immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s from Belarus escaping the anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire (1903-1906).[15][16] When his family arrived in the United States, his great-grandmother only spoke Yiddish, the historical language of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe. However, in spite of their poverty, as did most poor immigrants, most of the family learned English, worked hard and opened successful businesses in Pennsylvania —"the classic immigration success story".[17]

Miller claims he became a committed conservative after reading Guns, Crime, and Freedom, a book against gun control by National Rifle Association Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre.[18][19][20] While attending Santa Monica High School, Miller began appearing on conservative talk radio.[18][16] In 2002, at the age of 16, Miller wrote a letter to the editor of the Santa Monica Outlook, criticizing his school's response to 9/11 in which he stated that "Osama Bin Laden would feel very welcome at Santa Monica High School."[18][21] Miller invited conservative activist David Horowitz to speak, first at the high school and later at Duke University, and afterwards denounced the fact that neither of the centers would authorize the event.[18] Miller was in the habit of "riling up his fellow [high school] classmates with controversial statements"[22] and telling Latino students to speak only English.[19][22][23][24]

In 2007,[25] Miller received his bachelor's degree from Duke University, where he studied political science.[18] Miller served as president of the Duke chapter of Horowitz's Students for Academic Freedom and wrote conservative columns for the school newspaper. Miller gained national attention for his defense of the students who were wrongly accused of rape in the Duke lacrosse case.[18][26] While attending Duke University, Miller accused poet Maya Angelou of "racial paranoia" and described student organization Chicano Student Movement of Aztlán (MEChA) as a "radical national Hispanic group that believes in racial superiority."[27]

While at Duke, Miller and the Duke Conservative Union helped co-member Richard Spencer, a Duke graduate student at the time, with fundraising and promotion for an immigration policy debate in March 2007 between the open-borders activist and University of Oregon professor Peter Laufer and journalist Peter Brimelow, the founder of the anti-immigration website VDARE. Spencer would later become an important figure in the white supremacist movement and president of the National Policy Institute, and famous for coining the term "alt-right". Spencer stated in a media interview that he had spent a lot of time with Miller at Duke, and that he had mentored Miller. Describing their close relationship, Spencer said that he was "kind of glad no one’s talked about this", for fear of harming Trump.[3] In a later blog post he said the relationship had been exaggerated. Miller has said he has "absolutely no relationship with Mr. Spencer" and that he "completely repudiate[s] his views, and his claims are 100 percent false."[28][29][30]

Duke University's former senior vice president, John Burness, told The News & Observer in February 2017 that, while at Duke, Miller "seemed to assume that if you were in disagreement with him, there was something malevolent or stupid about your thinking—incredibly intolerant." History professor KC Johnson, however, criticized Duke for "not [having] an atmosphere conducive to speaking up", and praised Miller's role at Duke: "I think it did take a lot of courage, and he has to get credit for that."[29]

Career

After graduating from college, Miller worked as a press secretary for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Congressman John Shadegg, both members of the Republican Party.[31] Miller started working for Alabama Senator and future Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2009,[31] rising to the position of communications director.[18] In the 113th Congress, Miller played a major role in defeating the bi-partisan Gang of Eight's proposed immigration reform bill.[18][31] As part of his role as communications director, Miller was responsible for writing many of the speeches Sessions gave about the bill.[32] Miller and Sessions developed what Miller describes as "nation-state populism," a response to globalization and immigration that would strongly influence Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. Miller also worked on Dave Brat's successful 2014 House campaign, which unseated Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor.[18]

Miller at a July 28, 2016, Trump campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

In January 2016, Miller joined Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign as a senior policy adviser.[31] Starting in March 2016, Miller frequently spoke on behalf of the Trump campaign, serving as a "warm-up act" for Trump.[18] Miller wrote the speech Trump gave at the 2016 Republican National Convention.[25] In August 2016, Miller was named as the head of Trump's economic policy team.[33]

Miller was seen as sharing an "ideological kinship" with, and has had a "long collaboration" with, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.[5][34] Despite Miller's ideological agreement with Bannon, he eventually distanced himself from Bannon as the latter fell out of favor with others in the White House.[5][35]

Trump administration

In November 2016, Miller was named national policy director of Trump's transition team.[36] On December 13, 2016, the transition team announced that Miller would serve as Senior Advisor to the President for Policy during the Trump administration.[37] He was initially charged with setting all domestic policy, but quickly assumed responsibility for immigration policy only.[38]

In the early days of the new presidency, Miller worked with Senator Jeff Sessions, President Trump's nominee for Attorney General, and Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, to enact policies restricting immigration and cracking down on sanctuary cities.[39] Miller and Bannon preferred the use of executive orders to enact policy instead of legislation.[38] The views of Miller and Sessions on immigration were influenced by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, and the Center for Immigration Studies.[40] Miller and Bannon were involved in the formation of the Executive Order 13769, which sought to restrict U.S. travel and immigration by citizens of seven Muslim countries, and suspend the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, while indefinitely suspending entry of Syrians to the United States.[7][8][9] Miller has been credited as the person behind the Trump administration's decision to reduce the number of refugees accepted into the United States.[10][41]

In a February 2017 appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, Miller criticized the federal courts for blocking Trump's travel ban, accusing the judiciary of having "taken far too much power and become, in many cases, a supreme branch of government ... Our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned."[42][43] Miller's assertion was met with criticism from legal experts, such as Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute (who said that the administration's comments could undercut public confidence in the judiciary) and Cornell Law School professor Jens David Ohlin (who said that the statement showed "an absurd lack of appreciation for the separation of powers" set forth in the Constitution).[44] In the same appearance, Miller falsely said there was significant voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election and that "thousands of illegal voters were bused in" to New Hampshire. Miller did not provide any evidence in support of the statements.[13][14]

Miller played an influential role in Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.[45] Miller and Trump had drafted a letter to Comey in May 2017, which was never sent after an internal review and opposition from White House Counsel Don McGahn. However, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was given a copy of the draft letter, after which he prepared his own letter to Comey, which was cited as the reason for firing Comey.[46] In November 2017, Miller was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller in relation to his role in Comey's dismissal.[47]

In October 2017, President Trump provided a list of immigration reform demands to Congress, asking for the construction of a wall along the Mexico–United States border, hiring 10,000 additional U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, tightened asylum policies, and the discontinuance of federal funds to sanctuary cities in exchange for any action on undocumented immigrants who had arrived as minors. Those immigrants had been protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy until that policy's rescission a month earlier, in September 2017. The New York Times reported that Miller and Sessions were among the Trump Administration officials who had developed the demands.[48]

Miller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were described as the chief champions of the Trump administration's decision to start to separate migrant children from their parents when they crossed the U.S. border.[11][40] Miller argued that such a policy would deter migrants to come to the United States.[11] After Miller gave an on-the-record interview to the Times, the White House requested that the Times not publish portions of the recorded interview on its podcast, The Daily; the Times acceeded to the White House's request.[49]

In July 2018, senior White House official Jennifer Arangio was fired after she reportedly advocated for the United States to remain in the Global Compact for Migration (a United Nations plan intended to "cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner."[50]), defended the State Department's refugee bureau when Miller sought to defund it, and corrected misleading information about refugees that Miller was presenting to President Trump.[51][52]

In October 2018, The Financial Times reported that Miller sought to make it impossible for Chinese students to study in the United States. Miller argued that a ban was necessary to reduce Chinese espionage, but that another benefit was that it would hurt top universities. Within the Trump administration, Miller faced opposition on his idea, in particular from Terry Branstad, the ambassador to China, who argued that such a ban would harm US trade to China and would also hurt small American universities.[53]

In the lead-up to the 2018 mid-term elections, Miller played an influential role in Trump's messaging, which focused on sowing fears about immigration.[54][55]

Controversies

In September 2017, The New York Times reported that Miller stopped the Trump administration from showing to the public an internal study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees had a net positive effect on government revenues.[56][57] Miller insisted that only the costs of refugees be publicized, not the revenues that refugees brought in.[56]

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler found that Miller has on multiple occasions made false or unsubstantiated claims regarding electoral fraud.[5][13][14]

In May 2018 it was reported Miller attended a controversial meeting which included Wikistrat CEO Joel Zamel, George Nader, Erik Prince, and Donald Trump Jr. in August 3, 2016.[58]

On January 7, 2018, Miller appeared on Jake Tapper's State of the Union on CNN. In the course of Tapper's interview of him, Miller called Steve Bannon's comments about the Trump Tower meeting in Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury "grotesque". Miller then went on to state, "The president is a political genius... who took down the Bush dynasty, who took down the Clinton dynasty, who took down the entire media complex". Tapper accused Miller of dodging questions, while Miller questioned the legitimacy of CNN as a news broadcaster, and as the interview became more contentious, with both participants talking over each other, Tapper ended the interview and continued to the next news story.[59][60][61] After the interview was over Miller refused to leave the CNN studio and had to be escorted out by security.[62]

"I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, an educated man who is well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country."

Dr. David S. Glosser, uncle of Stephen Miller[63]

On August 13, 2018, Politico published an essay by Miller's uncle, Dr. David S. Glosser, titled "Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I'm His Uncle", in which he detailed the Glosser family's history of coming to the United States from the village of Antopol in present-day Belarus.[64]

Debate with Jim Acosta

On August 2, 2017, Miller had a heated exchange with CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House daily briefing regarding the Trump administration's support for the RAISE Act to sharply limit legal immigration and favor immigrants with high English proficiency.[65][66] Acosta said that the proposal was at odds with American traditions concerning immigration and noted that the Statue of Liberty welcomes immigrants to the U.S., invoking verses from Emma Lazarus's The New Colossus. Miller disputed the connection between the Statue of Liberty and immigration, pointing out that "the poem that you're referring to, that was added later, is not actually a part of the original Statue of Liberty."[66] Miller added that immigration has "ebbed and flowed" throughout American history and asked how many immigrants the U.S. had to accept annually to "meet Jim Acosta's definition of the Statue of Liberty law of the land."[67]

In covering these comments, multiple publications noted that the distinction Miller made between the Statue of Liberty and Lazarus's poem has been a popular talking point among the white supremacist segments of the alt-right.[66][68][69] The Washington Post's Michelle Ye Hee Lee stated that "Neither got it quite right about the Statue of Liberty ... While the poem itself was not a part of the original statue, it actually was commissioned in 1883 to help raise funds for the pedestal" and "gave another layer of meaning to the statue beyond its abolitionist message."[67]

References

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  2. ^ May, Charlie (January 21, 2018). "Lindsey Graham slams Stephen Miller, says "White House staff has been pretty unreliable"". Salon.com. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
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  60. ^ Kullgren, Ian (January 7, 2018). "White House adviser Stephen Miller unloads on CNN". Politico. Retrieved January 7, 2018. White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller unloaded on CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday — trashing Michael Wolff as a "garbage author of a garbage book," calling Steve Bannon an "angry and vindictive person" and accusing CNN of "sticking knives" into President Donald Trump's allies.
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  66. ^ a b c Swenson, Kyle (August 3, 2017). "Acosta vs. Miller: A lurking ideological conflict about the Statue of Liberty". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 12, 2017. And Miller is right about the poem. New Colossus was not part of the original statue built by the French and given to the American people as a gift to celebrate the country's centennial. Poet Emma Lazarus was asked to compose the poem in 1883 as part of a fundraising effort to build the statue's base. ... Lazarus's words infused the gracious monument with an immigration message—regardless of what the original statue was meant to represent. That additional meaning riles up a particular slice of the right.
  67. ^ a b Lee, Michelle Ye Hee (August 8, 2017). "Fact-checking the Stephen Miller-Jim Acosta exchange on immigration". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  68. ^ Italie, Hillel (August 3, 2017). "Miller Comments on Lazarus Poem Echo Far-Right Opinions". Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  69. ^ LeTourneau, Nancy (August 4, 2017). "Stephen Miller's Dog Whistles to White Nationalists". Retrieved January 26, 2018.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Brian Deese
Senior Advisor to the President
2017–present
With: Jared Kushner
Incumbent
Preceded by
Valerie Jarrett
Preceded by
Shailagh Murray