Through all of the intense staffing turnover associated with the Trump administration, Stephen Miller has remained — and now, he’s more out in the open than he’s been previously. Throughout recent weeks, he’s made a handful of high profile television appearances in which he’s carried on with his familiar combative, harsh behavior, and former Trump team members are among those concerned about what the appearances have to say about the status of the White House communications operation under Trump.
An unnamed former Trump administration staffer exclaimed:
‘If you’re a comms person, you don’t want to have him out there because every time he goes out, it’s an absolute disaster.’
Yet — he’s been out there recently anyway. Early last month, during an appearance on CBS’ Face The Nation, Miller insisted that President Donald Trump was “absolutely” willing to have the federal government shut down if he didn’t get the money he wants for his proposed border wall blocking off Mexico.
The government has since partially shut down due to lack of approved funding, and there’s little hope of a break in the stalemate on the horizon although the shutdown has dragged on for weeks. Trump continues to insist on wall money, while Democrats have said the concept is a “non-starter.”
Miller has been right with the president on high tension and high profile policy pushes like this in the past. For instance, he helped craft the infamous Muslim ban and the policy to separate undocumented immigrant families at the border.
A former member of Trump’s transition team insisted that the controversy associated with Miller and Trump’s policies has driven the upstart, angry conservative to be more out in the public eye.
As they put it:
‘Nobody wants to defend Stephen’s positions, so they stick his ass out there. Stephen’s in the background telling everyone, ‘Max pressure, max pressure,’ and saying those things are feasible. Everyone who’s actually worked in policy is like, That can’t work, go defend it yourself.’
His rise has coincided with a formal White House communications operation only falling further into disarray. Press briefings are back to happening roughly once a month — if that — and there have been reports that press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and deputy press secretary Raj Shah are on their way out. One unnamed former staffer called the whole operation a “zombie comms shop.”
Sanders has been around for awhile — compared to other staffers — previously serving as deputy press secretary under the infamous Sean Spicer. The administration has, meanwhile, seen five communications directors come and go, with ex-Fox News executive Bill Shine the most recent addition.
That hasn’t exactly turned things around for the White House, though. They didn’t even notify the press of the president’s schedule for the end of 2018.
Trump continues to mire himself in controversy, defining his administration by his insistence on his harsh political line. Hundreds of thousands of currently unemployed government workers have found themselves the latest addition to Trump’s list of targets, but the president doesn’t seem too bothered. He’s insisted the shutdown-affected workers are either Democrats or in support of his efforts to put up a border wall.