Stephen Miller is reportedly the last staffer the president trusts in his own White House, as the Commander-in-Chief fears, accurately, there is a “coup” being launched against him. [Stephen Miller May Be the Only Staffer Trump Trusts Now, by Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine, September 13, 2018] The president trusts Miller because he shares Trump’s hostility towards the “administrative state” thwarting the president’s agenda and challenging his power. [“Trump believes there’s a coup”: Freaked by the Times Op-Ed, the President Is Seeing Enemies Everywhere, by Gabriel Sherman, Vanity Fair, September 13, 2018] Miller is, of course, one of the few in the White House who supported President Trump throughout the campaign and who actually cares about America’s immigration disaster.
Yet Miller is an exception. The president is surrounded by the exact same kind of Republicans that opposed him and who have now driven him to the brink of political catastrophe. [New polling shows disastrous warning signs for Republicans ahead of the midterm elections, by Eliza Reiman, Business Insider, September 12, 2018] The identity of these saboteurs is no secret—incredibly, President Trump either appointed them or allowed them to be appointed even when their hatred for him is long-established and well-known. And this even includes one of the men who is supposed to argue for the president’s agenda before the world, Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah.
The senior communications official has a record of contempt for the President. A month before Trump was elected in 2016, Shah reveled in the release of the Access Hollywood tapes. “I’m kinda enjoying this, some justice. I honestly don’t think it’s the worst thing he’s done but he somehow got passes for the other acts,” Shah texted an RNC staffer at the time. “Trump is a deplorable.” [White House official called Trump a “Deplorable,” by Olivia Nuzzi, New York Magazine, February 5, 2018]. And well before those tapes leaked, Shah favored the utterly appalling Jeb Bush during the primaries and may have even helped craft an attack ad against Trump. [Report: White House Spokesman Called Trump a “Deplorable,” by Molly Olmstead, Slate, February 6, 2018]
This information has been public for months. But it has had no negative career impact on Shah. Indeed, he might be looking at a promotion, as he’s a top contender to replace White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders if she departs. [Trump advisers quietly begin thinking about ‘life after Sarah,’ by Andrew Restuccia and Nancy Cook, Politico, July 23, 2018]
And Shah, unfortunately, is not the only high-profile Never-Trumper in power. One of the most powerful figures at the State Department is Brian Hook, a former Bush administration official and prominent Never Trumper during the 2016 campaign. [Exclusive: Trump Critic Lands Key State Department Role, by Alex Pfeiffer, Daily Caller, March 23, 2017] Hook actually helped organize the John Hay Initiative, a pledge by GOP foreign policy experts to oppose Trump, refuse to work in his administration, and lobby for a more anti-Russian foreign policy. [GOP experts choose exile over Trump, by Julian Hattem, The Hill, May 5, 2016]
Yet that record was no disqualifier. Instead, at the State Department, it is support for the president that is the disqualifier—Hook has managed to fill the bureaucracy with fellow Never Trumpers who exercise serious influence over policy decisions. [How the State Department is Undermining Trump’s Agenda, American Greatness, October 21, 2017]
Arguably the worst example of a Never Trumper finding her way in the White House: Nikki Haley. The current UN Ambassador was a very vocal critic of Trump throughout the campaign and once implicitly suggested his rhetoric could inspire mass shootings like that of Dylann Roof. [S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley warns that Trump’s rhetoric could lead to violent tragedy, by Jenna Johnson, Washington Post, June 3, 2016] Haley still frequently airs her disagreements with the President, and often steers administration policy in whatever direction she pleases. [Nikki Haley is acting independently of the White House, and Trump is apparently fine with it, by Russ Read, Daily Caller, May 1, 2017] There are even rumors she may run against Trump in 2020. [The War Party is ready for Haley 2020, by Daniel McCarthy, The Spectator, April 20, 2018]
Yet all these Never Trumpers apparently have more job security than genuine Trump supporters. A loyal supporter of the president can lose his or her job from one hit piece—and the JournoFa know it. Thus, they dig up old tweets and statements and point-and-sputter until it becomes headline news. [Top Trump-appointee at Veterans Affairs spread conspiracy theories, made anti-Muslim comments, by Andrew Kaczynski, CNN, July 24, 2018] The White House usually caves, even though the “damning” evidence would hardly bother the average Trump supporter.
The worst example of this craven behavior: the case of former White House speechwriter Darren Beattie. Beattie was fired for the grievous crime of delivering an unexceptionable speech at a conservative academic conference also addressed (equally unexceptionably) by VDARE.com’s own Peter Brimelow.
Remember, Beattie sacrificed his promising academic career (tenure-track position at Duke) to support Trump in the 2016 election. But that obviously meant nothing to his superiors. He was let go by a communications shop that sorely lacks the speechwriter’s intellect and courage.
Another disheartening example is found in the termination of Taylor Weyeneth. This 24-year-old worked on the Trump campaign first as unpaid volunteer, then worked his way up. Weyeneth eventually rose in the White House to take a top job in its drug policy office. But then a Washington Post story came out on his alleged lack of credentials, and he was summarily fired. His loyalty and long-time support of the President made no difference in the face of bad press. [Promoted six times and then fired: Inside a 24-year-old political appointee’s wild ride in Trump’s Washington, by Robert O’Harrow Jr., Washington Post, June 15, 2018]
In fact, the one Cabinet member who is a certified Trumpist is also getting the worst treatment from the president’s media surrogates—and from the Commander-in-Chief himself. While Nikki Haley was denouncing Trump to the adoration of reporters, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions took a huge risk in endorsing and campaigning for the future president. As Attorney General, Sessions has a proven track record of pushing the MAGA agenda.
Yet his record and early endorsement are overlooked by the president because of Sessions’ recusing himself from the Russia investigation—even though Trump brought the Mueller investigation on himself by firing James Comey when he did. [Rudy Giuliani: Special counsel appointment was ‘really about the firing of Comey,’ by Kevin Breuninger, CNBC, May 18, 2018] Had Trump fired James Comey on Day One, there would likely be no Special Counsel.
Still, it appears Sessions will almost certainly be fired after the midterm elections—while anti-Trumper Nikki Haley’s job is sacrosanct.
This terrible situation is a result of multiple factors. There are several different factions in the White House that protect and advance their members, according to a Watcher source. They include RNC types, Koch World, foreign policy hawks, and loyalists to various Establishment leaders. But there is no organized Trumpist faction and the few nationalists that exist are thus vulnerable.
Another factor: overseeing personnel is reported Trump critic and long-time Establishment hack John Destefano. Trump supporters like Mike Cernovich frequently single out Destefano’s role in ensuring no Trumpists got jobs in the administration. The low number of Trumpists and high number of Never Trumpers lends much credence to this accusation.
Indeed, it is rumored that no applicants who applied to GreatAgain.Gov, the website set up for Trump supporters to apply for administration jobs, were given a position. [Trump Supporters Need Not Apply: GreatAgain.gov, by Dr. Jane Ruby, Medium, August 31, 2017]
Yet ultimately, the buck stops with President Trump. He has little awareness that personnel is policy and appears not to care much about staff decisions aside from a few top aides. He outsourced staffing decisions to the GOP Establishment, which promptly filled “his” administration with Trump’s enemies.
President Trump has advanced populist-nationalism through his public statements and executive orders. But he can only do so much when his staff just wants more tax cuts and the status quo.
If the White House had more Darren Beatties and fewer Raj Shahs, we would have the wall and no sanctuary cities. Instead, we’ve been delivered the GOP Establishment’s wish list of tax cuts, deregulation, and wildly unpopular healthcare initiatives.
Ed Kilgore fretted in his already-cited September 13 New York Magazine piece:
If Trump ignores all the advice he has been given by his fellow Republicans and lurches into a border wall or “criminal aliens” frenzy right before the midterms, we will know that it is finally and surely Miller Time in the Trump administration.
Yet “advice” by “fellow Republicans” has led President Trump to the brink of ruin. The Trump agenda is the only viable platform for Republicans going forward, as no one outside the Beltway wants to go back to the Bush years. But President Trump can’t do it alone. He needs people who believe in his platform, not hacks eager to join the #Resistance.
It’s not just “Miller Time,” it’s past time for POTUS to clean house. After the midterms, he won’t get another chance.
Washington Watcher [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.