Investigating Stephen Miller’s Communications with Government Agencies

(Photo: George Skidmore)

American Oversight today filed a lawsuit to shed light on White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller’s influence across the federal government. The lawsuit seeks communications between Miller and political appointees at four federal agencies and their components.

Miller, one of President Trump’s top policy advisers, has pushed some of the White House’s most controversial immigration policies. Miller was reportedly “the architect” of the travel ban on people from certain Muslim-majority countries. He was also a main proponent of the administration’s zero-tolerance policy, which resulted in the separation of thousands of immigrant children from their parents.

In August 2018, Vanity Fair reported that Miller had quietly been working to install immigration hardliners across the executive branch, “creating a side operation that will circumvent the normal, transparency policy process.” By placing allies throughout the government, Miller has worked to implement his hawkish immigration ideology, maneuvering to slash refugee admissions and limit citizenship for legal immigrants.

American Oversight filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with multiple agencies and received records that indicate Miller kept in regular touch with at least one agency: the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). According to the records, Miller maintained a steady stream of contact with USTR appointees during the first months of the Trump administration and involved himself in personnel and hiring decisions as well as policy questions.

American Oversight’s suit comes after the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Health and Human Services, and State, as well as their component agencies Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Administration for Children and Families, failed to provide records in response to FOIA requests for copies of communications between Miller and political appointees. The suit also seeks communications between Homeland Security officials and McLaurine Klingler, a former White House employee who, according to the USTR records obtained by American Oversight, served as Miller’s executive assistant. Klingler is now a spokesperson for DHS.

“Stephen Miller reportedly has wide influence in shaping policy across the Trump administration, but his position in the White House has shielded him from transparency and accountability,” says American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers. “If his fingerprints are in fact all over the administration’s harshest policies, it’s time for that evidence to come to light.”

See the complaint below: