In Depth

Stephen Miller: the senior Trump adviser in far-right email leak

The man behind the US travel ban on Muslims has been branded a ‘white nationalist’

A senior adviser to Donald Trump sent hundreds of white-nationalist themed emails to a writer at the far-right news website Breitbart.

The leaked emails show how Stephen Miller shaped the president’s hard-line immigration policies and promoted theories popular with racists.

Who is Stephen Miller?

Miller is one of the few original members of Trump’s 2016 campaign team who is still working for the president. The adviser has been cited as the architect of the administration’s restrictionist immigration policies, says The Guardian.

“Miller is the most prominent architect of immigration policy within the White House,” said Katie McHugh, the former Breitbart writer behind the leak, in The New York Times. “It’s easy to draw a clear line from the white supremacist websites where he is getting his ideas to current immigration policy.” 

Miller is an anti-migrant hardliner and was the main man behind Trump’s infamous travel ban, when the president attempted to restrict refugees from predominantly Muslim countries entering the US, says CNN.

Miller was also behind Trump’s policy of separating refugee children from their parents when they tried to enter the US. Despite a strong public backlash to the practice, Miller remained a strong advocate.

He told the press in his West Wing office: “No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” reports The Washington Post.

“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.”

What did Miller’s emails say?

An investigation by a nonprofit legal advocacy organisation, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), found that Miller had promoted white nationalist literature and tried to stoke fears of demographic displacement of white people by non-whites.

In emails to McHugh, who was at Breitbart at the time, Miller spread conspiracy theories of a United Nations-inspired plan to colonise the US, and bemoaned the loss of Confederate symbols after neo-Nazi Dylann Roof killed nine black worshippers in a South Carolina church.

After another mass shooting – in Oregon in October 2015 – Miller wrote that the killer “is described as ‘mixed race’… any chance of piecing that profile together more, or will it all be covered up?”.

Miller would share sources that “influenced his visions of policy”, says the SPLC, with an understanding between Miller and Breitbart’s editors that he was to influence McHugh’s reporting.

Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, was executive chairman of Breitbart News Network and President Trump has repeatedly tweeted links to Breitbart “polls” that express support for his administration.  

The content shared by Miller included white nationalist websites, xenophobic conspiracy theories and eugenics-era immigration laws that Adolf Hitler lauded in Mein Kampf, the charity says. Miller also recommended a “white genocide” novel in which Indian men eat their own faeces and invade the “white world” of Europe, raping white women, says Vox.

McHugh, previously active in the anti-immigration movement, has since renounced the far right and was personally responsible for leaking Miller’s emails to the SPLC.

“What Stephen Miller sent to me in those emails has become policy at the Trump administration,” McHugh told the SPLC.

What are the consequences?

So far, Miller is still in a job.

But Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is circulating a petition calling for the sacking of Miller on the basis that his emails prove his white-nationalist agenda.

“In their report about hundreds of emails from Miller, the SPLC couldn’t find a single time where Mr Miller spoke sympathetically or even neutrally about non-white groups,” the petition reads. “This man cannot serve in the White House.”

Miller “has been exposed as a bona fide white nationalist” and “must resign”, said Ocasio-Cortez.

Presidential hopeful and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders said Miller’s “white nationalist views are a danger to the American people” and pledged to defeat Trump’s “hateful administration and everything it stands for” in next year’s presidential election.

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