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Stephen Miller: why is Trump’s white nationalist aide untouchable? | US news

Despite weeks of fallout over an email scandal that revealed the senior White House adviser Stephen Miller’s white nationalist views, Donald Trump’s administration has made clear it is standing by its man.

More than 100 members of Congress, dozens of civil rights groups and at least 130,800 others have called on Miller to step down, or be fired, but the White House, and the broader Republican party, has still supported Miller after it was revealed he promoted racist fears such as a conspiracy theory about the demographic replacement of white people in America.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, who studies the history of fascism in Europe, said Miller was safe in the White House because he was the perfect combination of ideology and behind-the-scenes personality to appease Trump, an “attention-hungry leader” pushing far-right policies.

“Miller is a quiet extremist and they are the most dangerous kind,” Ben-Ghiat said.

A series of reports released by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) last month revealed the White House aide endorsing white nationalist websites and books in emails to a writer at Breitbart and injecting that agenda into the website.

The architect of many Trump administration immigration policies, Miller has a powerful influence in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where he has helped quietly reshape US immigration policy through small bureaucratic changes, as well as big policies such as the Muslim ban, which was pushed out without undergoing the traditional review process.

Miller ascended to the White House as the Republican party abandons moderate positions in favor of appealing to the fringe-right figures stacked in the presidential administration.

“It’s very hard for Americans to get their head around this kind of dismaying idea, that those emails are positive for the people Trump wants to please,” Ben-Ghiat said.

One of the only Republicans to criticize Miller after the email scandal was the Utah senator Mitt Romney. “I’d love to hear him more fully describe his involvement with that movement,” Romney told HuffPost when asked about Miller’s ties to white nationalism. “I know the president gets to choose who’s around him, but I don’t think that reflects as well as it might.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair), an advocacy group for American Muslims, was one of the dozens of civil rights groups to call for Miller’s resignation in the wake of the email scandal. Cair’s government affairs director, Robert McCaw, said the scandal “isn’t an isolated incident”, pointing to other White House officials with ties to white nationalism.

In 2016, Trump appointed Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, as White House chief strategist, despite Bannon’s website being associated with efforts to preserve “white identity” and defend “western values”.

Trump’s former deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka was photographed wearing a medal from Vitézi Rend, a group with historical links to Nazi Germany and the murder of Jews during the Holocaust. Gorka claimed that he only wore the medal to honour his father. Like Bannon, he no longer works in the White House.

In August 2018, the speechwriter Darren Beattie stopped working at the White House after it was revealed he had spoken at a conference regularly attend by white nationalists.

“That is a lot of people with anti-immigrant or white supremacist beliefs that have just flowed through this administration,” McCaw said. “Clearly, all those have been pushed out, but Miller remains. His staying power is that the president liked his anti-immigrant programs and shares his white supremacist beliefs.”

This administration has also shown itself to be nearly immune to criticism. “Someone who is so overtly white supremacist and promotes such draconian, anti-immigrant, anti-person-of-color policies could not have survived in a Bush or Reagan administration,” said McCaw.

Miller’s continued presence in the White House has led some to raise broader questions about what it means for the United States.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger’s editorial board wrote an opinion piece calling for Miller’s resignation last week, conceding that Trump “is sure to disregard this advice” and adding: “When his presidency finally comes to an end, and its political cult is deprogrammed, let’s hope that basic standards of decency are revived in North America.”

In a segment called Fire Stephen Miller Right F**king Now, late-night television host Samantha Bee, was just as blunt: “If we can’t all agree that a white supremacist has no business in the White House, then we should probably just turn out the lights on this grand American experiment.”

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