The investigation into ties between Donald Trump and Russia has now penetrated the White House inner circle, according to a CNN report on Thursday. They revealed that one of Trump’s top aides and chief speechwriter, 32-year-old Stephen Miller, has now been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators, making Miller the highest-ranking current White House official so far known to have been subject to grilling by Mueller.
Miller has been member of Trump’s top policy advisers since January of 2016, just when the presidential campaign was moving into full swing and more than a month before the first primary and caucus voting. Previously, Miller had served as communications director for then-Senator Jeff Sessions, now U.S. Attorney General under Trump, who himself has come under scrutiny in the Russia probe for his own Russia contacts while leading Trump’s national security team during the campaign.
Miller, who, though he is Jewish, is a popular figure in the “alt right” extremist movement and is longtime friends with white nationalist leader Richard Spencer. He has reportedly become Trump’s favorite speechwriter, first making his mark as the author of Trump’s “American Carnage” inauguration speech.
Miller has reportedly formed an alliance within the White House with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, who is also reported to be a top target of Mueller’s Russia probe.
According to Thursday’s reports, Mueller targeted Miller over the speechwriter’s role in crafting a public statement supposedly explaining why Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on May 9. Comey was then leading the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to tilt the 2016 presidential election toward Trump.
Mueller has reportedly been investigating Trump to determine whether the firing of Comey constituted obstruction of justice, that is, whether Trump intended the firing to stymie the Russia probe. The statement was never released, but according to a New York Times report, it gave Trump’s reasons for firing Comey as the FBI director’s botched handling of the Hillary Clinton email case.
Trump himself, however, contradicted that rationale in an NBC News interview just days after he fired Comey, saying that he had “the Russia thing” in mind when he decided to hand the FBI director his walking papers.
While Kushner has yet to be subjected to a grilling by Mueller, at least, not one that has been publicly reported, he did turn over a trove of documents relating to his own role in the firing of Comey. Kushner reportedly supported Trump’s move against Comey, and has also had numerous contacts with Russian officials of his own, contacts that he repeatedly omitted from his security clearance forms.
Kushner has also become a possible target of the Mueller probe for his attendance at a June, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower between Donald Trump, Jr., now-indicted former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, and a group of Kremlin-linked Russians offering damaging information about Clinton.
According to CNN, Miller was questioned by the Mueller team about his role in Comey’s dismissal.
Trump himself has often praised Miller, once describing his function in Trump’s campaign as “central and wide-ranging,” and saying that Miller “is deeply committed to the America First agenda, and understands the policies and actions necessary to put that agenda into effect.”
Miller was one of the chief architects of Trump’s original “Muslim ban,” an executive order banning travelers from certain Muslim-dominated countries from entering the United States.
[Featured Image by Thomas Peter/Getty Images]