Bannon was speaking of Stephen Miller, the 34-year-old White House staffer who maintains a curiously firm place within President Trump’s otherwise constantly shifting orbit. Miller’s fingerprints can be detected all over Trump’s presidency. He is, after all, one of Trump’s main speechwriters. But his biggest role has been in molding the White House’s immigration policy, tacitly pushing through a sweeping series of measures — from travel bans on Muslim-majority countries to punitive actions against immigrants who receive public assistance — under Trump’s watch.
Although a host of Trump advisers have come and gone over his tumultuous presidency, Miller has endured. That is, until now. Over the past week, more than 100 Democratic lawmakers and a number of civil society organizations have called for Miller’s resignation in response to new revelations about the depths of his ideological extremism.
A leaked cache of more than 900 emails that Miller allegedly sent to employees at the far-right website Breitbart ahead of the 2016 election appear to show his demonstrated commitment to white-nationalist political beliefs and talking points. Miller “promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a left-wing nonprofit organization that obtained the material from former Breitbart reporter Katie McHugh.
An email chain from September 2015 — around the time Trump had started campaigning loudly against resettling Syrian refugees in the United States — shows Miller hailing “The Camp of the Saints,” a 1973 dystopian French novel about a flotilla of woebegone Indian migrants threatening to descend on Europe with their attendant plagues and miseries. The novel is a cult favorite among white nationalists.
“The power of the book comes from the very vivid images of near destruction of the white race, and the absence of resistance from the government,” Cécile Alduy, a professor of French studies at Stanford University, told the New York Times. “The Trump administration’s anti-immigration policy is a direct consequence of taking ‘Camp of the Saints’ as a blue book for governing.”
Though Miller’s hard-line views are no secret, the emails tipped the scales for some in Washington. “It’s clearer than ever that Stephen Miller is a far-right white nationalist with a racist and xenophobic worldview. His beliefs are appalling, indefensible, and completely at odds with public service,” said a group of Democratic lawmakers in a statement that calls for his resignation.
In an earlier interview with The Post, Miller described himself as a clear-eyed immigration restrictionist who is focused on “the harms done by uncontrolled migration to people of all backgrounds.”
But reporting this month by my colleagues unearthed how Miller may indeed fixate on “backgrounds.” A piece that looked at the diplomatic career of Gordon Sondland, the Trump-appointed U.S. ambassador to the European Union now at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, points to how Miller may have encouraged Sondland to develop a “fast-track” immigration route for white European migrants.
“Many U.S. diplomats in the mission were unsettled by the idea, viewing it as racially motivated,” noted my colleagues. “One diplomat said that ‘the way this was going to come off was that the United States is fishing for white people, while reducing opportunities for needier people to immigrate.’”
His colleagues, though, are acting as if there’s not a shred of evidence behind these claims. One White House official, who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity to comment on a sensitive matter, said it was “anti-Semitic” to suggest that Miller, who is Jewish, could be a white nationalist.
A number of prominent Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, Bend the Arc, and the Union for Reform Judaism, disagree. They signed on to a letter urging Miller’s firing. “Stephen Miller has stoked bigotry, hate, and division with his extreme political rhetoric and policies throughout his career,” the statement read. “The recent exposure of his deep-seated racism provides further proof that he is unfit to serve and should immediately leave his post.”