Top immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign

Stephen MillerStephen MillerTrump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions Democrats, advocates blast reported White House plan to cut refugee cap to zero Unconfirmed by Senate, Cuccinelli sees power, influence grow on immigration MORE, an architect of many of the White House’s harshest immigration policies, said in a new interview that he felt a “jolt of electricity to my soul” when President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE announced his candidacy.

Miller told The Washington Post that he felt “as though everything that I felt at the deepest levels of my heart were for now being expressed by a candidate for our nation’s highest office before a watching world” upon watching Trump's announcement.

ADVERTISEMENT

Senior White House officials told the Post that Miller’s function within the administration frequently has been to develop more detailed policy based on Trump’s more visceral, instinctive attitudes about immigrants. They specifically cited the expanded “public charge” proposal, which would limit green cards for legal immigrants receiving public aid.

"Does the president believe that poor immigrants who can’t support themselves should live off the public dole? No,” one official told the newspaper. “Did he have any idea what the public charge rule was before Miller? No.”  

Some former administration officials told the Post, however, that Miller’s attempts at overhauling immigration policy have been unsuccessful, citing an influx of migrants crossing the border and numerous court decisions against the White House.

The Post also quotes senior White House officials who say Miller has derided Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump's 'soldier of fortune' foreign policy The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Democrats set for Lone Star showdown Exclusive: Kushner tells GOP it needs to unify behind immigration plan MORE’s more moderate immigration positions as well as Trump's son-in-law's knowledge of the issue, which Miller called “utterly malicious fabrications.”

One former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official suggested Miller was motivated by racism, telling the Post: “I don’t know what other principle could animate such a laserlike focus.”

Miller responded that anyone who described him as racist was “an ignorant fool, a liar and a reprobate who has no place in civilized society.”

Miller has reportedly regularly gone past DHS leadership to give lower-level officials direct orders, which former DHS head John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE ordered him to stop but which he resumed under Kelly’s successor, Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenDHS officials called lawmaker visit to migrant detention facility a 'Hill stunt' White House fires DHS general counsel Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE.

“He’s always micromanaging everything we do, or trying to, without really knowing or appreciating the operational challenges,” a DHS official told the Post.