|Senior Advisor to the President|
Assumed office |
January 20, 2017
Serving with Jared Kushner
August 23, 1985|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Education||Duke University (BA)|
Stephen Miller (born August 23, 1985) is an American far-right political activist who serves as a senior advisor for policy for President Donald Trump. He was previously the communications director for then-Senator Jeff Sessions. He was also a press secretary to Republican Representatives Michele Bachmann and John Shadegg.
As a speechwriter for Trump, Miller helped write Trump's inaugural address. He has been a key adviser since the early days of Trump's presidency and was a chief architect 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.
Miller grew up in a liberal-leaning Jewish family in Santa Monica, California. 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). 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".
Miller became a committed conservative after reading Guns, Crime, and Freedom, a book against gun control by National Rifle Association Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre. While attending Santa Monica High School, Miller began appearing on conservative talk radio. 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." 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. Miller was in the habit of "riling up his fellow [high school] classmates with controversial statements" and telling Latino students to speak only English.
In 2007, Miller received his bachelor's degree from Duke University, where he studied political science. 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. 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."
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 him; describing their close relationship, he said that he was "kind of glad no one’s talked about this", for fear of harming Trump. 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."
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."
After graduating from college, Miller worked as a press secretary for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Congressman John Shadegg, both members of the Republican Party. Miller started working for Alabama Senator and future Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2009, rising to the position of communications director. In the 113th Congress, Miller played a major role in defeating the bi-partisan Gang of Eight's proposed immigration reform bill. As part of his role as communications director, Miller was responsible for writing many of the speeches Sessions gave about the bill. 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.
In January 2016, Miller joined Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign as a senior policy adviser. Starting in March 2016, Miller frequently spoke on behalf of the Trump campaign, serving as a "warm-up act" for Trump. Miller wrote the speech Trump gave at the 2016 Republican National Convention. In August 2016, Miller was named as the head of Trump's economic policy team.
Miller was seen as sharing an "ideological kinship" with, and has had a "long collaboration" with, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. 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.
In November 2016, Miller was named national policy director of Trump's transition team. On December 13, 2016, the transition team announced that Miller would serve as Senior Advisor to the President for Policy during the Trump administration. 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. 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. Miller has been credited as the engineer behind the Trump administration's decision to reduce the number of refugees accepted into the United States.
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." 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). 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.
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. 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." 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." 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. 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." 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." 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." Jeff Greenfield, writing in Politico, observed that "cosmopolitan" has historically been used as a code word for Jews. Acosta told Miller that "it sounds like you are trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country." Miller called Acosta's statement "outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish", but later apologized for the tone of the exchange.
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. Miller insisted that only the costs of refugees be publicized, not the revenues that refugees brought in.
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. According to sources after the interview was over Miller refused to leave the CNN studio and had to be escorted out by security.
In Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Miller was described as a "a fifty-five-year-old trapped in a thirty-two-year-old's body"; Wolff noted that "other than being a far-right conservative, it was unclear what particular abilities accompanied Miller's views. He was supposed to be a speechwriter, but if so, he seemed restricted to bullet points and unable to construct sentences. He was supposed to be a policy adviser but knew little about policy. He was supposed to be the house intellectual but was militantly unread. He was supposed to be a communications specialist but he antagonized almost everyone."
"I traced their family histories. Their ancestors wouldn’t have been welcome." According to the 1910 census, his great-grandmother arrived in 1906 and "identified as speaking only Yiddish" in 1910.
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.
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.
| Senior Advisor to the President
With: Jared Kushner
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