President Trump is not known for being a weak personality.
Many of his advisers have been cast in roughly the same mold: a little bit brash, certainly blunt, not inclined to use euphemisms.
One such personality was Stephen Bannon, the former chief strategist, whose bluntness eventually conflicted with the president’s own.
But now another blunt-speaking personality, who has a take-no-prisoners attitude with the media, is emerging as a power player for the president.
In the last week, he’s been “thrown out” of a television channel’s headquarters and has been the focus of complaints that his demands are holding up legislation.
He’s Stephen Miller, and McClatchy recently cited fretting by “even Republicans” in Congress that he was setting down requirements that were limiting their chances of passing an immigration deal.
Some members on Thursday said a committee had reached agreement on a deal, while others said it hadn’t happened.
But the McClatchy report said Miller is loathed for “delivering his hardline views.”
Miller appeared on Tapper’s “State of the Union” program Sunday morning to defend the president from charges of dysfunction in the White House leveled in the new book by Michael Wolff, “Fire and Fury.”
Tapper appeared to become flustered by Miller’s defense of the president and his refusal to answer some questions.
“I have plenty of questions on immigration — you’ve attempted to filibuster by talking about your flights with the president,” Tapper said.
“Don’t be condescending, Jake,” Miller barked.
At one point, Tapper urged Miller to “settle down, calm down” and accused him of performing to please Trump, whom he referred to as Miller’s “one viewer.”
After a bit, Tapper cut the interview short, claiming Miller was “wasting his viewers’ time.”
Trump soon took to Twitter to declare his adviser “destroyed” Tapper.
McClatchy quoted an unidentified Republican House member stating Miller is “an obstacle to getting anything done on immigration.”
Conservatives might be pleased with that in light of Wednesday’s report that allowing some 800,000 children of illegal aliens to stay in the U.S. and become voters would flip four or even five states from the GOP to Democrats, costing future elections for perhaps generations.
The states are Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
Of the five, Texas, with 34 electoral votes, has the most impact on presidential election outcomes. Florida has 29; North Carolina, 15; Georgia, 16; and Arizona, 11. In 2016, Trump won Texas 52.2 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 43.2 percent. His winning margin in Florida was much tighter at 48.6 percent to 47.4 percent. Trump took North Carolina with 49.8 percent to 46.2 percent; Arizona, 48.1 percent to 44.6 percent; and Georgia, 50.4 percent to Clinton’s 45.3 percent.
But political trends in those traditionally Republican-leaning states could shift if illegal immigrants known as DREAMers, who were brought to the U.S. as minors, are offered amnesty and particularly if they’re eventually given voting rights. Those fives states host large numbers of DREAMers, as Fortune magazine reported last January.
McClatchy reported: “Many people involved in the immigration debate — Republicans and Democrats, Capitol Hill staffers and activists — complain that Miller is making already tough negotiations more difficult, according to 14 people familiar with the situation, half involved in negotiations. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s aide.”
The report laments that Miller’s “close relationship to the president, which spans the campaign and transition, means they are unlikely to do or say anything to get him out of the negotiations.”
Miller has tried to influence the negotiations with “policies he knows will never survive a vote in the Senate.”
But the report also quoted two senior White House officials saying Miller is “a policy expert Trump values who has a wealth of knowledge and expertise on immigration.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Miller is “an incredibly bright mind on immigration policy and reflects the administration’s focus in fixing our broken immigration system.”
“He has been of tremendous value for members on the hill and for the administration during this debate.”
Another unnamed source, a “lobbyist,” told McClatchy that it’s Miller’s personality, rather than his message, that creates issues.
Miller is credited at least partly with stopping a 2013 plan to allow illegal aliens to become citizens. The “Gang of Eight” bill in the Senate never even was reviewed in the House.
In the Atlantic, commentator David Graham explained his dislike for Miller’s tactics, but conceded, “Miller’s old tactics have finally found a forum and audience in which they can thrive, and he seems to have achieved exactly what he wanted from this interview.”
The Tapper interview went back and forth, Graham explained, but “the audience wasn’t just Trump — it was his supporters, too.”
“In that demographic, it’s likely Miller scored well by calling out Tapper’s condescension and refusing to back down. Miller’s demand for time to simply ramble makes little sense in the real world — why should CNN give an aide to the president carte blanche to launch ad hominem attacks on Wolff and on the network itself? — but if one believes that CNN makes up facts to take down the president, then why shouldn’t Miller be allowed to say what he wants, too?”
He pointed out: “Miller accused CNN of offering nothing but anti-Trump attacks, and in the process baited CNN into cutting his mic, which just validated his point. Getting cut off was a better outcome for him than having to actually debate the substance of Wolff’s book or anything else. He got what he wanted.”