The architect of Trump’s hard-line immigration policy, Stephen Miller, regularly shared white nationalist reading materials with right-wing media company Breitbart during the 2016 election, according to leaked emails published by SPLC on Tuesday.
Many of the emails contain links to the website VDare, a white nationalist website known for its associations with prominent white supremacists and trafficking in racist, anti-immigrant conspiracies. The emails, leaked by a former Breitbart editor, offer a glimpse into Miller’s efforts to influence media coverage and public opinion surrounding immigration (as well as other hot-button issues, such as Confederate flags).
Miller has been credited with some of the Trump administration’s most controversial immigration policies and its messaging around immigration — and the leaked emails point to a troubling pipeline between white nationalist blogs and national policy.
SPLC’s Hatewatch, which monitors hate groups in the U.S., obtained over 900 emails from former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh, who was fired from the media company in 2017 amid a firestorm over her anti-Muslim tweets. McHugh, who since being fired has publicly denounced the far right, told Hatewatch that Miller had been brought in as an unofficial advisor to help the outlet shape its coverage on particular issues.
In addition to sending Breitbart staffers links from VDare, Miller also recommended “The Camp of the Saints,” a French dystopian novel popular with the alt-right — as well as with Breitbart co-founder and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
Hatewatch also published emails from Miller that showed him discussing the coverage of the 2015 shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. The shooter left a rambling, racist manifesto online, but Miller focused on his race. “[The shooter] is described as “mixed race” and born in England,” Miller, then 30, wrote to Breitbart editor Katie McHugh. “Any chance of piecing that profile together more, or will it all be covered up?”
McHugh responded with a link to her article about the shooter, that contained information that he was connected with someone on MySpace who had celebrated Islamic Terrorism. “Your eds need to make that the LEDE,” he replied.
He also complained to McHugh about the push to remove Confederate monuments and flags from state buildings in South Carolina following the white supremacist shooting at a black church in Charleston in June 2015. He wrote to her after Amazon announced it would no longer sell the Confederate flag, with the subject line “Defies modern comprehension.” McHugh wrote back pointing out that Amazon still sold Communist flags.
“That's a really, really, really good point,” he wrote. “Have you thought about going to Amazon and finding the commie flags and then doing a story on that? I think you've hit on something potentially profound.”
Miller’s ties to anti-immigration or nativist organizations, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, have been well-documented. But there have also been persistent rumblings of his associations with even more noxious ideologies. For example, he served alongside the infamous white nationalist Richard Spencer at Duke University’s Conservative Union. Spencer, who helped organize the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, claims the two were friends. Miller has denied having any connection to him.
Cover: In this June 21, 2018 file photo, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)