In recent weeks, the Trump administration has seen a long list of departures of personnel associated with national security. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen resigned last weekend, while the administration pulled the nomination of ICE director Ron Vitiello, with the president declaring the need for a “tougher direction.”
Several media reports have attributed these moves to the influence of White House advisor and speechwriter Stephen Miller. An NBC News report claimed that Miller is “consolidating his power over immigration policy,” while The Washington Examiner called Miller “the architect behind Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation.”
However, there’s an indication that the president wants it known that the architect of the recent changes is none other than himself.
According to an Associated Press story published by The San Francisco Chronicle, Trump was asked if he has considered naming Miller as Nielsen’s replacement as Homeland Security secretary. While he called Miller both an “excellent guy” and a “brilliant man,” Trump made it clear that he was taking the credit.
“Frankly, there’s only one person that’s running it: You know who that is? It’s me.”
In a tumultuous campaign and White House, the 33-year-old Miller has been one of the few constants. He has worked as a campaign staffer and later as a White House aide, one who has outlasted multiple White House chiefs of staff and has remained an advisor in good standing. Unlike the often-contentious relationship between the president and another past White House advisor, Steve Bannon, there has never been any indication of Trump and Miller failing to get along.
While he has mostly avoided public feuds with others in Trump’s orbit, one anonymous outside advisor, during the family separations controversy last year, gave an eye-popping quote about Miller.
“Stephen actually enjoys seeing those pictures at the border,” the advisor said, per The Week. “He’s a twisted guy, the way he was raised and picked on. There’s always been a way he’s gone about this. He’s Waffen-SS.”
Last summer, per Vox, Miller threw away an $80 sushi order after a bartender at a Washington, D.C., restaurant greeted him with an obscene gesture.
Miller is an outspoken immigration hardliner, and he was part of a controversy earlier this week when Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, referred to Miller as a white nationalist. Per CNN, this led to the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., rebuking Omar and accusing her of anti-Semitism, as Miller is Jewish.