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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
President Donald Trump
Preceded by
Personal details
Born (1985-08-23) August 23, 1985 (age 32)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Political party Republican
Education Duke University (BA)

Stephen Miller (born August 23, 1985) is U.S. President Donald Trump's senior advisor for policy. He was previously the communications director for then-Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. He was also a press secretary to Republican U.S. Representatives Michele Bachmann and John Shadegg.

As the President's chief speechwriter, Miller wrote Trump's inaugural address.[1][2] He has been a key adviser since the early days of Trump's presidency and was a chief architect[3][4][5] of Trump's executive order restricting immigration from seven countries. On February 12, 2017, he appeared to question the power of the judiciary to limit the executive's role in setting immigration policy.[6]

Early life

Miller grew up in a liberal-leaning Jewish family in Santa Monica, California.[7][8] 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.[9][10]

Miller became a committed conservative after reading Guns, Crime, and Freedom, a book by National Rifle Association Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre.[11][12] While attending Santa Monica High School, Miller began appearing on conservative talk radio.[11][10] In 2002, at the age of 16, Miller wrote a letter to the editor of the "Santa Monica Outlook", criticizing his school's pacifist response to 9/11 in which he stated that "Osama Bin Laden would feel very welcome at Santa Monica High School."[11][13] 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.[11] Miller was in the habit of "riling up his fellow [high school] classmates with controversial statements"[14] and telling Latino students to speak only English.[12][14][15][16]

In 2007,[17] Miller received his bachelor's degree from Duke University where he studied political science.[11] 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.[11][18] 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."[19]

While at Duke, Miller and the Duke Conservative Union helped co-member Richard B. 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. Spencer stated in a media interview that he had spent a lot of time with Miller at Duke, and that he had mentored him; in a later blog post he said the relationship had been exaggerated. Miller says he has "absolutely no relationship with Mr. Spencer" and that he "completely repudiate[s] his views, and his claims are 100 percent false." A contemporary of Spencer and Miller at Duke disputed the mentorship claim.[20][21][22][23]

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."[24]


After graduating from college, Miller worked as a press secretary for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Congressman John Shadegg, both members of the Republican Party.[25] Miller started working for Alabama Senator and future Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2009,[25] rising to the position of communications director.[11] In the 113th Congress, Miller played a major role in defeating the bi-partisan Gang of Eight's proposed immigration reform bill.[11][25] As part of his role as communications director, Miller was responsible for writing many of the speeches Sessions gave about the bill.[26] 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.[11]

In January 2016, Miller joined Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign as a senior policy adviser.[25] Starting in March 2016, Miller frequently spoke on behalf of the Trump campaign, serving as a "warm-up act" for Trump.[11] Miller wrote the speech Trump gave at the 2016 Republican National Convention.[17] In August 2016, Miller was named as the head of Trump's economic policy team.[27]

Miller was seen as sharing an "ideological kinship" with, and has had a "long collaboration" with, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.[1][28] 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.[1][29]

Trump administration

In November 2016, Miller was named national policy director of Trump's transition team.[30] On December 13, 2016, the transition team announced that Miller would serve as Senior Advisor to the President for Policy during the Trump administration.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33][34][35] Miller has been credited as the engineer behind the Trump administration's decision to reduce the number of refugees accepted into the United States.[36]

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."[37][38] 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).[39] In the same appearance, Miller 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.[40][41]

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.[42][43] 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."[43] 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."[44] Distinguishing between the Statue of Liberty and Lazarus's poem has been a popular talking point among the anti-Semitic alt-right.[43] 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."[44] Acosta questioned: "Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?" Miller replied: "I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree."[44] According to Lee: "Miller has the edge here. English is an official language in dozens of countries other than Great Britain and Australia, and is spoken in roughly 100 countries." In addition, "Miller is correct that English proficiency currently is a requirement for naturalization."[44] Jeff Greenfield, writing in Politico, observed that "cosmopolitan" has historically been used as a code word for Jews.[45] Acosta told Miller that "it sounds like you are trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country."[46] Miller called Acosta's statement "outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish", but later apologized for the tone of the exchange.[46]

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.[47][48] Miller insisted that only the costs of refugees be publicized, not the revenues that refugees brought in.[47]

Miller has on multiple occasions made false or unsubstantiated claims regarding public policy[1][40][41] and Donald Trump.[49] On February 13, 2017, Stephen Colbert responded to Miller's statement that he would appear on "any show, anywhere, anytime, and repeat it, and say the president of the United States is correct, 100 percent" by inviting Miller to come on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, stating: "And listen, if you don't show up, I'm going to call you a liar. And if you do show up, I'm going to call you a liar to your face."[49]

On January 7, 2018, Miller appeared on Jake Tapper's State of the Union on CNN. Miller called Steve Bannon's comments in the new book Fire and Fury "grotesque". Miller 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.[50][51][52] According to sources after the interview was over Miller refused to leave the CNN studio and had to be escorted out by security.[53]


  1. ^ a b c d Dawsey, Josh; Johnson, Eliana. Trump’s got a new favorite Steve. Politico, April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  2. ^ "Who is Stephen Miller, the Jewish adviser behind Trump's 'American Carnage". Haaretz, January 31, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  3. ^ Bennett, Brian (January 29, 2017). "Travel ban is the clearest sign yet of Trump advisors' intent to reshape the country". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  4. ^ Savransky, Rebecca (January 30, 2017). "Scarborough singles out Trump aide Stephen Miller for 'power trip'". The Hill. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  5. ^ Evan Perez, Pamela Brown & Kevin Liptak (January 30, 2017). "Inside the confusion of the Trump executive order and travel ban". CNN. 
  6. ^ Redden, Molly. "Trump powers 'will not be questioned' on immigration, senior official says". The Guardian, February 12, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  7. ^ Hackman, Michelle (July 21, 2016). "The Speechwriter Behind Donald Trump's Republican Convention Address". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 6, 2016. 
  8. ^ Jewish Journal: "From Hebrew school to halls of power: Stephen Miller’s unlikely journey" BY EITAN AROM March 15, 2017 | "Those who knew him as the scion of a Jewish household in Santa Monica were intrigued"
  9. ^ Eshman, Rob (August 10, 2016). "Stephen Miller, meet your immigrant great-grandfather". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved August 3, 2017. 
  10. ^ a b Scott Johnson (March 29, 2017). "How Trump Adviser Stephen Miller Divided a Santa Monica Synagogue". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ioffe, Julia (June 27, 2016). "The Believer". Politico. Retrieved August 6, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b Fernando Peinado (February 8, 2017). "How White House advisor Stephen Miller went from pestering Hispanic students to designing Trump's immigration policy". Univision. 
  13. ^ Miller, Stephen (March 27, 2002). "Political Correctness out of Control". Santa Monica Lookout. Retrieved October 4, 2016. 
  14. ^ a b Brennan, Christopher (February 15, 2017). "Trump adviser Stephen Miller booed off stage by classmates after high school speech". Daily News. New York. Retrieved February 15, 2017. 
  15. ^ Goodman, Amy (February 15, 2017). "The Stephen Miller Story: From Pestering Latino Students in High School to Drafting Muslim Ban". Democracy Now!. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  16. ^ O'Neil, Luke (February 17, 2017). "A Conversation with Cobrasnake About Bad Boy Stephen Miller: A generation's defining hipster once knew Trump's controversial advisor". Esquire. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  17. ^ a b Hathi, Gautam; Chason, Rachel (July 31, 2016). "Stephen Miller: The Duke grad behind Donald Trump". The Chronicle. Retrieved August 6, 2016. 
  18. ^ Bixby, Scott (April 16, 2016). "Top Trump policy adviser was a 'controversial figure' for college writings". The Guardian. Retrieved August 6, 2016. 
  19. ^ Osnos, Evan (September 26, 2016). "President Trump's First Term". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 4, 2016. 
  20. ^ Mak, Tim (January 19, 2017). "The Troublemaker Behind Donald Trump's Words". Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  21. ^ Harkinson, Josh (December 14, 2016). "Trump's Newest Senior Adviser Seen as a White Nationalist Ally". Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  22. ^ Stancill, Jane. "Stephen Miller's brash path from Duke campus to Trump White House". News & Observer. 
  23. ^ Hathi, Gautam; Chason, Rachel. "'A very young person in the White House on a power trip'". The Chronicle. 
  24. ^ "Stephen Miller's brash path from Duke campus to Trump White House," The News & Observer, February 3, 2017, retrieved February 3, 2017.
  25. ^ a b c d Costa, Robert (January 25, 2016). "Top Sessions aide joins Trump campaign". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  26. ^ Thrush, Glenn; Steinhauer, Jennifer (February 11, 2017). "Stephen Miller Is a 'True Believer' Behind Core Trump Policies". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2017. 
  27. ^ Tankersley, Jim (August 5, 2016). "Donald Trump's new team of billionaire advisers could threaten his populist message". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 6, 2016. 
  28. ^ The Economist 13 July 2017
  29. ^ Suebsaeng, Asawin (August 16, 2018). "Steve Bannon's Ideological Allies Inside the White House Are Souring on Him". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 13, 2018. 
  30. ^ Costa, Robert; Rucker, Philip; Viebeck, Elise (November 11, 2016). "Pence replaces Christie as leader of Trump transition effort". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 12, 2016. 
  31. ^ Nussbaum, Matthew (December 13, 2016). "Trump taps campaign aide Stephen Miller as senior adviser". Politico. Retrieved February 1, 2017. 
  32. ^ Markon, Jerry; Costa, Robert; Hauslohner, Abigail (January 25, 2017). "Trump to sign executive orders enabling construction of proposed border wall and targeting sanctuary cities". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  33. ^ Bennett, Brian (January 29, 2017). "Travel ban is the clearest sign yet of Trump advisors' intent to reshape the country". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  34. ^ Savransky, Rebecca (January 30, 2017). "Scarborough singles out Trump aide Stephen Miller for 'power trip'". The Hill. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  35. ^ Evan Perez, Pamela Brown & Kevin Liptak (January 30, 2017). "Inside the confusion of the Trump executive order and travel ban". CNN. 
  36. ^ Blitzer, Jonathan (2017-10-13). "How Stephen Miller Single-Handedly Got the U.S. to Accept Fewer Refugees". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2017-10-14. 
  37. ^ Blake, Aaron (February 13, 2017). "Stephen Miller's authoritarian declaration: Trump's national security actions 'will not be questioned'". The Fix. The Washington Post (Blog). Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  38. ^ Redden, Molly (February 12, 2017). "Trump powers 'will not be questioned' on immigration, senior official says". The Guardian. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  39. ^ Doina Chiacu & Julia Harte, White House official attacks court after legal setbacks on immigration, Reuters (February 12, 2017).
  40. ^ a b Katie Sanders, White House senior adviser repeats baseless claim about busing illegal voters in New Hampshire, PolitiFact (February 12, 2017).
  41. ^ a b Glenn Kessler, Stephen Miller's bushels of Pinocchios for false voter-fraud claims, Washington Post (February 12, 2017)
  42. ^ Segarra, Lisa (August 7, 2017). "Find Out If President Trump Would Let You Immigrate to America". Time.
  43. ^ 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. 
  44. ^ a b c d Lee, Michelle Ye Hee (August 8, 2017). "Fact-checking the Stephen Miller-Jim Acosta exchange on immigration". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 12, 2017. 
  45. ^ Jeff Greenfield, "The Ugly History of Stephen Miller's 'Cosmopolitan' Epithet: Surprise, surprise—the insult has its roots in Soviet anti-Semitism." Politico 3 August, 2017
  46. ^ a b Ryan, Josiah (August 2, 2017). "CNN's Acosta, White House aide clash over immigration at briefing". CNN.
  47. ^ a b Davis, Julie Hirschfeld; Sengupta, Somini (2017-09-18). "Trump Administration Rejects Study Showing Positive Impact of Refugees". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-20. 
  48. ^ Shear, Michael D.; Davis, Julie Hirschfeld (2017-12-23). "Stoking Fears, Trump Defied Bureaucracy to Advance Immigration Agenda". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-23. 
  49. ^ a b Bradley, Laura (February 14, 2017). "Colbert Dares Trump Adviser Stephen Miller to Tell Lies on Late Show". Vanity Fair. Retrieved December 31, 2017. 
  50. ^ Manchester, Julia. "Dramatic exchange between White House's Miller, CNN's Tapper debated online". The Hill. Retrieved 7 January 2018. 
  51. ^ 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. 
  52. ^ Hart, Benjamin (January 7, 2018). "Jake Tapper Cuts Off Stephen Miller After Deeply Strange Interview". New York magazine. Retrieved January 8, 2018. 
  53. ^ Lopez, Linette (January 7, 2018). "Stephen Miller had to be escorted off CNN's set after his interview with Jake Tapper went off the rails". Business Insider. Retrieved January 8, 2018. 

External links

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