White House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations

The White House is standing by senior adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerPence names new press secretary Pence press secretary returns to work after recovering from coronavirus Trump camp outraged over Jezebel article calling for Stephen Miller to get coronavirus MORE as he faces calls from dozens of Democrats to resign after newly released emails showed he circulated material linked to white nationalism to conservative media before joining the administration.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has published summaries of hundreds of emails Miller sent to Katie McHugh, a former editor at Breitbart News. The emails contain links and references to far-right websites, with much of the focus on immigration. The SPLC is planning to release additional emails in the coming days.

Democrats have reacted to the emails with outrage, decrying Miller as a white nationalist and calling for his resignation. But the White House has scoffed at the source of the documents, painting the SPLC as a discredited group and defending Miller in an indication that one of Trump's longest tenured and most influential aides will weather the controversy.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I work with Stephen. I know Stephen. He loves this country and hates bigotry in all forms – and it deeply concerns me as to why so many on the left consistently attack Jewish members of this Administration,” deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

Numerous Democratic lawmakers have called for Miller to resign, citing the contents of the messages released by SPLC.

In a statement, the chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) labeled him a white nationalist and bemoaned his influence on government policy.  

“We feel like it is up to us to point out the obvious — someone who writes, talks, and governs like a white nationalist is in fact a white nationalist,” the caucus leaders said. “Stephen Miller is a white nationalist and he has no business serving in the White House.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezThe battle of two Cubas An affordable zero-emissions grid needs new nuclear Recovery First: The American comeback shouldn't hinge on warmed-over policy agendas MORE (D-N.Y.) started an online petition to collect signatures calling for Miller's resignation.

“Each day we allow a white nationalist to be in charge of US immigration policy is a day where thousands of children & families lives are in danger,” she tweeted.

ADVERTISEMENT

More than 20 emails reviewed by The Hill show how Miller coordinated with McHugh to shape coverage at Breitbart in 2015 and 2016 by sharing with her stories from far-right websites associated with white nationalist viewpoints.

One exchange from August 2015 shows Miller expressing concern that Mexicans affected by Hurricane Patricia could be granted temporary protected status (TPS).

“That needs to be the weekend’s BIG story. TPS is everything,” Miller wrote to McHugh.

Miller shared with McHugh links to InfoWars, a far-right site that promotes conspiracy theories, and VDare, which publishes white nationalist ideology, according to the emails.

In one exchange from September 2015, Miller references “Camp of Saints,” a dystopian French novel that depicts the decay of Western civilization at the hands of immigrants. 

An email exchange from October 2015 shows Miller emailing McHugh with the subject line “Oregon shooter,” an apparent reference to the gunman who killed nine people and injured several others at Umpqua Community College.

Miller writes that the shooter is of “mixed race” and “born in England.”

“Any chance of piecing that profile together more, or will it all be covered up?” Miller wrote.

A second batch of emails published Thursday shows Miller sharing reports with McHugh from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), an organization that advocates for restricting immigration and that is periodically in contact with the Trump administration to discuss policy.

McHugh previously worked for Breitbart until 2017, when she was fired after posting virulent anti-Muslim tweets.

Miller's defenders have largely focused on the source of the latest stories about him: the SPLC, a civil rights organization that works to identify and expose hate groups.

The White House ripped the group as a “discredited, debunked” organization. It cited a 2018 settlement in which the SPLC paid $3.4 million after it included Muslim activist Maajid Nawaz on a list of anti-Muslim extremists.  

ADVERTISEMENT

Michael Edison Hayden, the SPLC reporter who has authored the summaries of Miller's communications, argued that his work should be viewed separately from any criticisms of the organization's leadership and that Miller's emails speak for themselves.

“Emails are emails are emails,” he said in an interview. “They can call us whatever names they want to call us, but he has these emails, and he has not denied these emails because he sent these emails and he knows that.”

Hayden pointed to Miller's comments about TPS as one example of a direct line from his email rhetoric to White House policy. Trump has rolled back TPS protections for citizens of El Salvador and Honduras, and earlier this year he did not grant TPS to Bahamian victims of Hurricane Dorian.

Miller was working as an aide to former Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Memo: Trump tweets cross into new territory Sessions goes after Tuberville's coaching record in challenging him to debate The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip MORE (R-Ala.) at the time of the emails reviewed by The Hill. Prior to that, he worked for then-Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannEvangelicals shouldn't be defending Trump in tiff over editorial Mellman: The 'lane theory' is the wrong lane to be in White House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations MORE (R-Minn.).

He joined the Trump campaign and has emerged as one of the most prominent aides in an administration rife with turnover. He works as a speechwriter and policymaker for the president and has Trump's ear on one of his signature issues: immigration.

Miller was the architect of the administration's controversial travel ban on citizens of a handful of Muslim-majority countries. He has pushed for stricter immigration laws to cut back on the number of asylum-seekers entering the U.S.

ADVERTISEMENT

And he was viewed as orchestrating an overhaul of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) earlier this year when officials like former Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers The 'accidental director' on the front line of the fight for election security MORE were ousted after they were viewed as insufficiently cooperative with Trump's agenda.

Chad WolfChad WolfHundreds of migrant children, teens deported under pandemic border policy: report Trump administration finalizes indefinite extension of coronavirus border restrictions   US-Mexico border restrictions extended to June 22 MORE this week was officially elevated to serve as the new acting DHS secretary. Outside groups that align with Miller's hard-line immigration agenda have panned the pick, however, citing Wolf's past work lobbying for companies that used H-1B visas to employ foreign workers.