Senior presidential adviser Stephen Miller had a memorable Sunday on four talk shows. “Memorable” is not a good thing in this case. It was bad enough that he declared on CBS, “The president of the United States has accomplished more in just a few weeks than many presidents accomplish in an entire administration.” (William Henry Harrison survived only 31 days in office, James A. Garfield about 3 months, but 2 of 44 prior presidents does not make for “many.”)
He got rapped on the knuckles by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me move on, though, to the question of voter fraud as well. President Trump again this week suggested in a meeting with senators that thousands of illegal voters were bused from Massachusetts to New Hampshire and that’s what caused his defeat in the state of New Hampshire, also the defeat of Senator Kelly Ayotte.
That has provoked a response from a member of the Federal Election Commission, Ellen Weintraub, who says, “I call upon the president to immediately share New Hampshire voter fraud evidence so that his allegations may be investigated promptly.”
Do have that evidence?
MILLER: I have actually haven’t worked before on a campaign in New Hampshire. I can tell you that this issue of busing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who’s worked in New Hampshire politics. It’s very real. It’s very serious. This morning, on this show, is not the venue for me to lay out all the evidence.
But I can tell you this, voter fraud is a serious problem in this country. You have millions of people who are registered in two states or who are dead who are registered to vote. And you have 14 percent of non-citizens, according to academic research, at a minimum, are registered to vote, which is an astonishing statistic.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You can’t make a — hold on a second. You just claimed again that there was illegal voting in New Hampshire, people bused in from the state of Massachusetts.
Do you have any evidence to back that up?
MILLER: I’m saying anybody — George, go to New Hampshire. Talk to anybody who has worked in politics there for a long time. Everybody is aware of the problem in New Hampshire with respect to —
STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m asking you as the White House senior — hold on a second. I’m asking use as the White House senior policy adviser. The president made a statement, saying he was the victim of voter fraud, people are being bused from —
MILLER: And the president — the president — the president was.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have any evidence?
MILLER: — issue — if this is an issue that interests you, then we can talk about it more in the future. And we now have our government is beginning to get stood up. But we have a Department of Justice and we have more officials. . . .
STEPHANOPOULOS: — just for the record, you have provided absolutely no evidence. The president’s made a statement.
Miller tried to get off the hook when asked if national security adviser Mike Flynn still had Trump’s support:
MILLER: I don’t have any…
STEPHANOPOULOS: — can’t answer the questions being posed about the White House?
MILLER: I don’t have any information. . .
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you think he can continue to serve as national security adviser after misleading the vice president?
MILLER: I don’t accept that what your question is saying is accurate. I don’t have any information one way or another to add anything to this conversation. I understand it’s an important matter. I understand it’s a sensitive matter. And I’m sure you’ll have an opportunity in the near future to interview someone from the vice president’s office or to interview the chief of staff, who can elucidate further on this very sensitive issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I should actually say that we did invite the chief of staff to join us this morning and the White House refused to put him out, perhaps, because you guys don’t want to answer that question.
Miller got lectured on constitutional law by Chris Wallace, who cited the Ninth Circuit’s holding that, “Although courts owe considerable deference to the president’s policies determinations with respect to immigration and national security, it is beyond question that the federal judiciary retains the authority to adjudicate constitutional challenges of executive action.” Miller persisted in the notion that Trump is, apparently, above the law. Perhaps he was being a good solider, upholding an untenable legal position. Alternatively, this might be Miller constructing once again his own reality in which courts have no ability to interfere with his hopelessly flawed drafting.
Perhaps Miller forgot the Bush years. But he could have read some of the Ninth Circuit’s opinion citing clear precedent:
There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy. See Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723, 765 (2008) (rejecting the idea that, even by congressional statute, Congress and the Executive could eliminate federal court habeas jurisdiction over enemy combatants, because the “political branches” lack “the power to switch the Constitution on or off at will”). Within our system, it is the role of the judiciary to interpret the law, a duty that will sometimes require the “[r]esolution of litigation challenging the constitutional authority of one of the three branches.” Zivotofsky ex rel. Zivotofsky v. Clinton, 566 U.S. 189, 196 (2012) (quoting INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919, 943 (1983)). We are called upon to perform that duty in this case.
Although our jurisprudence has long counseled deference to the political branches on matters of immigration and national security, neither the Supreme Court nor our court has ever held that courts lack the authority to review executive action in those arenas for compliance with the Constitution. To the contrary, the Supreme Court has repeatedly and explicitly rejected the notion that the political branches have unreviewable authority over immigration or are not subject to the Constitution when policymaking in that context. See Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 695 (2001) (emphasizing that the power of the political branches over immigration “is subject to important constitutional limitations”). . . .
Law, facts — they make no difference to Miller, who as an aide to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), assisted him in peddling propaganda, half-truths, exaggerations and blatantly false material from fringe anti-immigrant groups like FAIR. In his made-up world net migration to Mexico doesn’t exist (it does), sanctuary cities are crime-infested (they aren’t) and immigrants are finagling federal benefits (they don’t) and vote illegally in the millions (they don’t).
Does Miller believe the sometimes ludicrous untruths (busing illegals into New Hampshire?!)? The same could be asked of President Trump, and we would give the same answer: Whether they truly believe what they say or deliberately construct phony information to feed to low-information voters is unknowable and, at bottom, unimportant. Either way, they continue to destroy faith in elected leaders, fan the flames of xenophobia, whip up fear and, because their vision does not correspond to reality, stumble repeatedly. More than anything, their blatant disregard for reality frightens many Americans who think Trump is either hugely dishonest or plain nuts.