Civil Rights Groups and Legislators Demand Trump Fire White Nationalist Adviser Stephen Miller

Interview with Diallo Brooks, People for the American Way's senior director of outreach and partner engagement, conducted by Scott Harris

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, has received, reviewed and released a series of leaked email correspondence between President Trump’s senior adviser for policy and white nationalist Stephen Miller, and a former editor at the extreme right publication Breitbart News, Katie McHugh, who leaked the emails to the SPLC.

The email exchange, which took place before the 2016 election, reveal Miller’s alignment with white nationalist thought and far-right extremism. Miller, the architect of Trump’s vicious and inhumane immigration policies, forwarded McHugh articles from websites steeped in racism, xenophobia and debunked conspiracy theories. Miller, who was then an aide to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, sent McHugh information about “immigrant crime” and offered her talking points on defending Confederate iconography in the wake of the white nationalist Dylann Roof’s massacre of black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.

Since the release of these emails, civil rights activist groups and more than 100 Democratic members of Congress have demanded Trump fire adviser and white nationalist Stephen Miller. However, the White House rejects any criticism and remains supportive of Miller, while Republicans have largely remained silent on the emails that link Miller to extremist and hateful ideology. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Diallo Brooks, People for the American Way’s senior director of outreach and partner engagement. Here, he discusses the significance of Miller’s emails and the growing calls for his firing.

DIALLO BROOKS: We’ve known from some of Stephen Miller’s early writings or writings in college when he attended Duke University of having some connections — which he’s denied — interactions with some white supremacists and particularly a white nationalist named Richard Spencer. He has done writings and made a lot of comments about various immigration policies that we feel are very problematic. You know, he’s driving the policy around the separation of migrant children. He is working on denying green cards for applicants who seek welfare assistance from the government. Banning immigrants from Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. Repealing protections for immigrants who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own as children. As folks have uncovered his ties to white nationalism and white supremacy are driving this debate and as he’s made this connection to this white nationalist figure, it’s become clear for folks to really realize that it’s time for the White House to remove him from office.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Diallo, can we connect Stephen Miller directly with what many would label as state violence when thousands of children are separated from their parents at the border with his crackdown on immigration that’s come through the Trump administration? There have been cases where children have died in custody. Certainly, hundreds of other detainees have also died and suffered a great deal. To many, this would appear to be state violence which has claimed lives. Can we trace that back to Stephen Miller and his influence on Donald Trump?

DIALLO BROOKS: Oh, definitely. I mean, if we look at Stephen Miller’s influence within the White House, these are policies that he is driving. And he’s come out on various talk shows and talked about the importance of these policies. He has the president’s ear and the president is basically getting the playbook from Stephen Miller. It’s very scary, very problematic and has real life impact on real people, having somebody that is connected to white nationalism and a racist that’s sitting in the White House driving the president’s decision on immigration and so many other policies that affect communities of color and affect Americans as a whole.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Diallo, review for our listeners, the kinds of organizations as well as Democratic legislators who are calling for Stephen Miller to be fired, actually.

DIALLO BROOKS: We’re part of a large core coalition of organizations. It’s People for the American Way. Organizations like Move On. Organizations like Public Citizen and others that are calling on Stephen Miller to be fired. And we’ve all seen the documentation. We’ve always known that he’s been a problematic addition to the White House. And as as this leaked information continues to come out, we see his direct ties and he’s driving Trump to rely on these far right conspiracy theories. These are very fringy, extremist ideas that are getting mainstream play within the White House. And as People for the American Way and our partner organization, we have to hold this White House accountable. We have to make sure that even as bad as the White House has been on many different policies, that this is absolutely unacceptable to have a white nationalist driving our immigration policy and driving a white nationalist agenda from within the White House.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Should Congress begin investigations into Stephen Miller, his association with racist organizations because he is a prominent member of this White House? We do have a First Amendment. People can say awful things and be protected and I don’t think many of us would want to trade that away. On the other hand, what should Congress’ response be here?

DIALLO BROOKS: Well, I think Congress should have a role. They should do their job just like they’re doing with the impeachment process — really investigate anything that they feel like is wrongdoing within this administration. That is their responsibility. So them stepping to the plate, making sure that things are functioning in the way they should function within the law. They’re supposed to be the checks and balance. People are paying attention, people are organizing and Congress has to watch that as well and make sure that they’re doing the right thing and doing everything within their power to hold this administration accountable.

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