“They're totally outmaneuvering him in the press,” the source close to Miller said. “I think he feels totally under assault. He's not politically astute, he's not ready for this.”
But in an interview, Miller batted down the idea that he’s in conflict with Priebus and his allies, and instead emphasized what he says is a close relationship with him.
“I’ve had the enormous privilege to get to know Reince throughout the campaign, then the transition and now the administration,” Miller told me. “We've spent hours and hours together flying across the country all during the general election. I developed a close relationship with him. My respect for him has only deepened as time has gone on.”
Miller’s White House role is in policy, but his background is as a communications staffer on the Hill, and his political patrons have made full use of his polished appearance on-camera. In recent days, Miller has been on MSNBC and Fox News defending the order and its rollout while also downplaying his role in the incident.
“I get a lot more credit than I deserve,” Miller told Tucker Carlson on Carlson’s Fox News show on Tuesday night. “The immigration orders were drafted by a team of some of the most qualified and talented lawyers in the United States of America.”
“My main responsibility at the White House is to advise on policy matters,” Miller told Carlson. “I’m just one voice, I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be a voice.”
Miller says he’s more than happy to publicly defend the executive order.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to go on TV as a member of the White House staff to explain and advocate for a policy that we believe will be enormously beneficial to the country,” Miller told me.
Miller was initially more circumspect. Reached on Tuesday for a request for an interview, he said over email “Did you see the presser today from Kelly?”
I responded affirmatively and asked what had struck him about it.
“It was tremendous,” MIller said, and left it at that. In Kelly’s press conference, Kelly had denied having been caught off guard by the executive order, saying: “We knew it was coming. It wasn’t a surprise.”
iller, a native of Santa Monica, developed his right-wing beliefs early. The roots of his activism date back to high school — according to a profile in Politico Magazine, his political awakening came in the form of National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre’s book Guns, Crime and Freedom, and flowered at Duke University, where he wrote flame-throwing columns in the Duke Chronicle.
The Duke lacrosse controversy, in which a black woman accused white members of the lacrosse team of raping her at a party, was Miller’s first entrance onto the national political scene. Miller was early to spring to the defense of the lacrosse players, writing in March 2006, that “not only have many already convicted the lacrosse players, but they have also diffused that conviction across the entire team. Being a white, male lacrosse player was all it took.” Miller appeared on television several times to discuss the case, which became a national controversy. The charges against the players were eventually dropped.