The Trump administration is in the middle of a shake-up at the Department of Homeland Security that started with the resignation of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen after a meeting with President Donald Trump on Sunday and continued into Monday with the announced departure of U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph ‘Tex’ Alles.
White House advisor Stephen Miller is reportedly behind the ousters and, according to news reports, it’s not over yet.
CNN is reporting that Miller “wants the president to get rid of the director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Lee Cissna and DHS general counsel John Mitnick.”
Reports Monday also indicate that the job of the No. 3 official at DHS, Claire Grady, who is technically in line as acting DHS secretary, could be on the line, too.
Who is Stephen Miller and how did he become such a seemingly powerful voice in Trump’s inner circle?
1 - Prior to joining the Trump administration as a senior policy advisor, Miller was a Republican political consultant who previously served as an advisor on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and was a staff member of then-Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (R – Ala.). One his first moves in the administration was to help his friend and former Trump strategist Steve Bannon create the travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
In an interview with CBS’ John Dickerson a few years ago, Miller defended the immigration policy, even after a federal judge struck it down. “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 said.
2 - Miller, 33, grew up in a wealthy, liberal Los Angeles-area enclave, graduating from Santa Monica High School, according to his biography, where he wrote editorials for the school newspaper that were critical of what he saw as a liberal bias among students and faculty. The Hollywood Reporter detailed how Miller waged a successful campaign to require students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the school.
3 - Miller attended Duke University in North Carolina where he gained national attention for his defense in the student newspaper of the university’s lacrosse team who were accused of sexual assault. He graduated in 2007 with a political science degree and went on to work for former Tea Party Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former Arizona Congressman John Shadegg.
4 - Miller’s extreme right-wing views on immigration caused family members to speak out against him last summer during the height of the Trump administration’s controversial immigration policy separating children from their parents at the border, which caused a public outcry, forcing Trump to rescind the policy.
In an editorial in Politico last August, Miller’s uncle, David Glosser said he watched with “dismay and increasing horror” as his nephew became “the architect of immigration policies that repudiated the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.”
Glosser also said that family members had pushed him to slam Miller as an “immigration hypocrite” in the editorial.
5 - At 31, Miller had an office in the West Wing and a seat at the table during critical policy discussions among Trump administration staffers. People who know Miller are not surprised by his extreme right-wing views, according to Vanity Fair, which reported that Miller “delighted in challenging political convention and social niceties” while growing up in his hometown of Santa Monica.
In a speech at his Santa Monica high school in 2002, Miller said he would say and do things “no one else their right mind would do,” according to a Vanity Fair article on Miller. In the same speech he allegedly said, “Am I the only one who is sick and tired of being told to pick up my trash when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us?” Miller later said of his comments that the speech was an example of “satire.”
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