Stephen Miller: The man behind the ban

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Stephen Miller, White House senior adviser, has been behind much of President Donald Trump’s nationalist agenda. Wikipedia Commons

This is the first in an occasional series about Jews who work in the Trump administration.

He rarely smiles, he talks tough on immigration and holds a highly influential position inside the White House.


No, not Donald Trump. He’s a man working for Trump who is less than half the president’s age: senior adviser Stephen Miller.

In the first month of Trump’s presidency, the 31-year-old Miller, who is Jewish, has played a central role, helping to convince his boss to issue an executive order banning immigration to the United States from seven majority-Muslim countries. Trump did it on Jan. 27. Courts quickly blocked the measure.

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Miller and chief strategist Steve Bannon are the main policy gurus inside the administration, according to news outlets. They wrote Trump’s “America First” inaugural address and Miller wrote Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last July, according to The Washington Post.

Miller became a household face last month when he appeared on four Sunday morning shows, after Judge James Robart of the U.S. Disrict Court in Seattle,  blocked Trump’s immigration order and the United States Court of Appeals upheld the decision.


“The idea that you’re going to have a judge in Seattle say that a foreign national living in Libya has an effective right to enter the United States is beyond anything we’ve ever seen before,” Miller told CBS’s John Dickerson on “Face the Nation” on Feb. 12.

The White House did not respond to a request to interview Miller for this article.

Miller arrived in Washington after graduating from Duke University in 2007. He worked on the staffs of then-Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) before becoming the communications director for then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) in 2009. While working for Sessions, Miller’s efforts helped to defeat a bipartisan attempt at immigration reform.

“We knew we were taking on the establishment, and Steve was an incredibly hard worker and had no second thoughts about it,” Sessions, now the attorney general in the Trump administration, told The New York Times last month.

Like Trump, Miller speaks with an authoritative tone. But unlike Trump, Miller sticks to a more-traditional, less off-the-cuff style when speaking in public. That was on display Oct. 21 when he served as the warm-up act for then-candidate Trump at a rally in Johnstown, Pa.

“It broke my heart to see what happened to Johnstown when the steel mills shut down and the jobs left, and the industry died and they went to foreign countries,” he told a crowd of more than 6,000. “How many of you know somebody or may be somebody whose own personal dreams were shattered because our politicians let Johnstown down?”

On election night a few weeks later, Trump won the key swing state of Pennsylvania by about 44,000 votes on his way to victory.

But during that speech, Miller also referred to his mother. Miriam Glosser’s side of the family settled in Johnstown at the beginning of the 20th century. The Glossers operated a department store from the 1910s through the 1980s, according to local historian Barry Rudel. Additionally, Miller’s grandfather Izzy Glosser served as the president of the city’s Jewish federation and the family’s synagogue, Beth Sholom Congregation.

Many news outlets have reported that Miller was raised by liberal parents. A search of the Federal Election Committee database shows that both of Miller’s parents, Michael and Miriam, have donated consistently to Republican candidates as far back as 2004. Miller’s parents were also listed as host committee members at last year’s Republican Jewish Coalition California Bash that was held in Beverly Hills.

Miller’s uncle David Glosser, who lives in Yardley, Pa., said the reporting on his nephew’s parents so far has been erroneous.

“He [Miller] was not raised in a family of liberal Democrats,” Miller’s uncle told Washington Jewish Week. “He was raised in a family of conservative Republicans. However, the larger Glosser family is Democratic.”

On Oct. 28, Glosser wrote a long Facebook post in which he condemned Trump’s nationalist rhetoric and noted that he wished “career success and personal happiness” for Miller, but could not endorse his nephew’s political views.

“My nephew and I must both reflect long and hard on one awful truth. If in the early 20th century the USA had built a wall against poor desperate ignorant immigrants of a different religion, like the Glossers, all of us would have gone up the crematoria chimneys with the other six million kinsmen whom we can never know,” he wrote.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Like Jared Kushner (a grandson of Survivors), I’ve wondered over and over how they missed what my Reform Jewish upbringing brought to me about Tikkun Olam. In a recent ER visit at a DC area hospital [I’m ok now], a Chabad rabbi stopped by. When he asked, in addition to my medical issues, what was troubling me, I told him .. just this .. that not only was the Trump White House and the Congress causing such hurt to so many but that I didn’t understand Miller and Kushner and how they missed the lessons I had learned from my cousin (of blessed memory), Rabbi Stephen Levinson, and my parents, and grandparents and through religious school. The prayer he said for me beautifully addressed this tho’ there really are no answers. I am glad to read that part of the Glosser family is more caring.

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