With Anthony Brooks
The art of provocation from White House advisor and immigration enforcer Stephen Miller – who’s calling the shots on the forced family separations at the border.
McKay Coppins, staff writer for The Atlantic. Author of "The Wilderness: Deep Inside the Republican Party's Combative, Contentious, Chaotic Quest to Take Back the White House." (@mckaycoppins)
Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent. (@kwelkernbc)
From The Reading List:
The Atlantic: "The Outrage Over Family Separation Is Exactly What Stephen Miller Wants" — "When the news stories began to surface last month of sobbing young migrant children being forcibly removed from their parents at the border, many close White House watchers instantly suspected Stephen Miller was behind it.
Though he keeps a relatively low profile compared to the cast of camera-muggers and Twitter warriors in President Donald Trump’s orbit, the 32-year-old speechwriter and senior adviser has cultivated a reputation as the most strident immigration hawk in the West Wing. So, it came as little surprise when The New York Times reported over the weekend that Miller had played a key behind-the-scenes role in advancing the new border policy:
“No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” he said during an interview in his West Wing office this past week. “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”
Also From The Atlantic: "Trump’s Right-Hand Troll" — "When Donald Trump entered the presidential race in the summer of 2015, it was perhaps inevitable that Miller would find a way onto the campaign. The rest of Washington scoffed at Trump’s candidacy, but for Miller, the New York billionaire was the flesh-and-blood manifestation of everything he cared about most: an opponent of political correctness, a hard-liner on immigration, an enemy of the political establishment—and a world-class troll.
Of the many things Miller admires about his boss, Trump’s talent for performance and provocation is what gets him most worked up. 'If this was a fair political culture,' he told me, 'there would be many articles written and many stories on TV about his natural gifts as a communicator and his ability to keep an audience rapt for an hour and a half; to be able to pivot seamlessly from comedy to gravity; his understanding of drama.'
'A political rally is supposed to be a rally,' Miller went on. 'It’s supposed to have almost, like, the fun and excitement of a revival—and so few politicians today are able to establish anything resembling that kind of connection with people.'"
Vanity Fair: “'Stephen Actually Enjoys Seeing Those Pictures at the Border': The West Wing Is Fracturing Over Trump’s Callous Migrant-Family Policy" — "Meanwhile, as the border crisis spirals, the absence of a coordinated policy process has allowed the most extreme administration voices to fill the vacuum. White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has all but become the face of the issue, a development that even supporters of Trump’s 'zero-tolerance' position say is damaging the White House. 'Stephen actually enjoys seeing those pictures at the border,' an outside White House adviser said. 'He’s a twisted guy, the way he was raised and picked on. There’s always been a way he’s gone about this. He’s Waffen-SS.'"
Faced with children in cages and the outrage that followed, President Trump retreated. After insisting he didn’t have a policy to separate children from their parents at the border, and that his hands were tied, he signed an executive order to end it. He’s also keeping his most strident immigration hawk.
This hour, On Point: the art of political provocation and what drives Stephen Miller, Trump’s immigration enforcer.
- Anthony Brooks
This program aired on June 21, 2018.