White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller has been behind some of the administration’s harshest anti-immigration policies, reportedly installing handpicked appointees with similar views across the administration. Now, emails obtained by American Oversight and reported on by Rolling Stone provide a glimpse of how one of those advisers worked with Miller to promote that anti-immigration agenda.
Jon Feere, a senior adviser at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), joined the administration after more than a decade at the Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigrant group that had provided Miller with much of the extremist fodder he enthusiastically shared with Breitbart in the run-up to the 2016 election. In nearly 500 pages of records, Feere can be seen strategizing with Miller, recommending hires, and briefing Miller on upcoming enforcement actions. “Feere comes across like Miller’s point man inside ICE,” writes Andy Kroll in Rolling Stone, “enjoying unfettered access to arguably the most influential aide in the Trump White House, working long hours to advance the administration’s extreme and often inhumane immigration policy.”
One email shows Feere sending Miller and other White House officials, including Miller ally John Zadrozny, who is now at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a 10-point memo updating the White House “on some of the progress this week on a number of fronts.” As Kroll notes, the email is notable in its illustration of the large amount of influence Feere appears to have in his role, which as an advisory position did not require the scrutiny of a Senate confirmation. And it appears that Feere’s memo to the White House was sent without then-ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan having seen it first.
The emails also show Feere supplying Miller with “ideas for swift action,” being instructed to call Miller’s cellphone over the weekend, and working to build the case against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, of which Feere had long been a vocal critic.
The emails are an important record of the ways in which the extremist policies of Miller — who reportedly has only rarely put things in writing — have been promoted by a network of similar anti-immigration hardliners in the administration. American Oversight is continuing to investigate Miller’s influence on the administration’s immigration policy, and you can see the ICE documents we obtained here. More about our other investigations, including our impeachment-related lawsuits, is below:
Trump-Putin Meeting Notes: A federal judge has denied the government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit we filed with Democracy Forward against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the National Archives and Records Administration for failing to preserve notes that President Donald Trump confiscated from an interpreter during a 2017 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. By allowing Trump to seize the notes and failing to preserve them, Pompeo violated the Federal Records Act, and the judge’s Wednesday ruling is an important step to ensuring the government complies with its record-keeping legal obligations.
Impeachment Vote: On Friday, the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against Trump, including abuse of power and obstruction of congressional oversight. A full House vote is expected next week.
Ukraine Documents Lawsuit Update: As we’ve mentioned before, those 100 pages of State Department documents we got last month — showing contact between Pompeo and Rudy Giuliani before the recall of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch — were just the first batch of records we expect to get in our lawsuit for Ukraine-related records. Besides the fact that the documents were only in response to part of our lawsuit, the State Department had used a cut-off date of Aug. 2, 2019, in their search for records. This week, the judge in the case said that the early cut-off date was “not adequately justified,” ordering the State Department to search for records through Oct. 18 and to release them by Jan. 8, 2020.
Administration’s Impeachment Coordination: We filed new Freedom of Information Act requests with the Office of Management and Budget, the State Department, and the Defense Department for communications between top officials and select members of Congress to learn whether and to what extent the administration has coordinated with those lawmakers or the media on the impeachment hearings or other related matters. Congressional offices included in our requests are those of Reps. Devin Nunes, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan and Elise Stefanik. We’re also seeking communications with media figures like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and other Fox News personalities, as well as John Solomon and representatives of One America News Network.
Mnuchin, McConnell, and Russian Aluminum Company: Earlier this year, a Russian company associated with a Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska announced a $200 million investment in a Kentucky aluminum plant. That company, Rusal, had previously been under U.S. sanctions related to Deripaska’s involvement Russian interference in the 2016 election, and was only able to make the business deal because Congress had lifted the sanctions months before the announcement. In addition, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin allegedly has had business dealings with a Deripaska associate. We filed two lawsuits against the Treasury for related communications, including with Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
New Senate Ethics Chair: Sen. James Lankford is reportedly in line to be the next chair of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, a concerning selection because of Lankford’s defense of Giuliani’s “shadow foreign policy” and Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden. “The American people deserve to have confidence that their representatives are working for them — and not for special interests or personal gain,” said American Oversight’s chief oversight counsel, Molly Claflin, in the American Independent.
Try “1234”: Electronic voting devices used in multiple states experienced some problems during the recent November election in Georgia, where many tablets got stuck due to a programming error. But new records obtained by American Oversight reveal that’s not all — the devices in question use “1234” as their default password, “an exceptionally weak security measure that makes the devices easy prey for hackers looking to disrupt voting in key precincts or sow chaos en masse.” You can read more in Politico Pro.
API Influence: Calendars we obtained show that on Feb. 26, 2019, representatives of the American Petroleum Institute (API) had a call with multiple agencies to discuss final revisions to a proposed rule on blowout preventer systems and well control, which involve safety regulations for oil drilling. We filed FOIA requests with multiple agencies, including the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, to learn more about what sort of influence API has had on the rulemaking process.
Texas Public Policy Foundation Meetings: We filed a public information request with the Texas attorney general’s office for records related to multiple meetings with the Koch-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, as well as for communications between that office and TPPF representatives.
Part of Investigation: