How has Stephen Miller, unabashed white nationalist, former aide to then-senator Jeff Sessions, and acolyte of Steve Bannon, outlasted his former mentors in the Trump administration?
According to POLITICO, “by personally advising the president on high-profile policy questions, such as immigration, and publicly defending Trump on television and in the briefing room” without standing in the spotlight himself, Miller has shrewdly made himself into a West Wing favorite.
In other words, Miller has burrowed into Donald Trump’s circle of trust instinctively, like a fascist tick digging its mandibles into a dog’s ear.
Miller’s success is all the more striking now that retired Gen. John Kelly has taken over as Chief of Staff, firing controversial figures such as Sebastian Gorka and cutting troublemakers like Omarosa Manigault out of high-level meetings.
Like Manigault, who developed a reputation for “triggering” the president with examples of negative news coverage, Miller is reportedly no longer able to hand-deliver printouts of Breitbart web stories to the Resolute desk.
But Miller has stayed on Kelly’s good side, and at the height of Trump’s anger with his attorney general over the summer, he threw Sessions under the proverbial bus.
Despite his role in the Muslim ban fiasco during February, Miller has developed a warm personal relationship with Trump, who likes the way his aide defends him on television.
Unlike Bannon, who became a lightning rod of criticism, Miller has largely managed to stay out of the public eye and off the cover of TIME Magazine.
As a result, Miller has become “untouchable,” rising “to a status that’s beyond Sessions,” a senior White House aide tells POLITICO.
Miller, seen as one of the last remaining conservatives in the White House, built a close relationship with Trump during the campaign and is often a sounding board for the president.
Miller’s influence with the president has rarely been stronger than in the past few weeks, when, according to two administration officials, he joined with Sessions, his former boss, to convince Trump to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors.
Miller and Sessions mounted a fierce behind-the-scenes campaign to convince Trump to end DACA, arguing repeatedly that the administration couldn’t defend the policy in court and that maintaining the program would break his campaign promises.
Of course, those “campaign promises” were focus-grouped in the Breitbart.com comment section, while Miller — who remains an enthusiastic Breitbart reader — often warmed up Trump’s rally crowds by playing up his plans to build a border wall, deport the DREAMers, and so on.
So despite what you may have heard lately about Donald Trump turning over a new leaf, or becoming “presidential,” or “pivoting” at last into a politician that mainstream media outlets can pretend is normal, his agenda has not changed, and Miller’s continued presence in the White House is probably the biggest reason why.
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