From Trump Aide to Single Mom

Last November, A.J. Delgado played a vital role on a winning campaign. Then everything fell apart.

A photograph of A.J. Delgado
Twitter / A.J. Delgado / The Atlantic

A.J. Delgado and Jason Miller stood in the New York Hilton ballroom on the night of the 2016 election, watching the man they helped elect president deliver the unlikeliest of victory speeches. It was a heady moment for the small band of aides and operatives who had been working toward this dream for months—and few had worked harder than Delgado and Miller. As prominent spokespeople for Donald Trump, they had become key figures in his campaign, and that night they both looked poised to join the ranks of America’s most powerful politicos. They were also engaged in a romance that had been forged in the frenetic final weeks of the race.

Nine months later, their paths have diverged dramatically.

Miller lives with his young family near Washington, D.C., where he works at a high-powered consulting firm, offers political analysis on CNN, and reportedly speaks regularly with the president and his inner-circle. Delgado, meanwhile, is living with her mother in Miami, without a job in politics, largely abandoned by the movement she helped lead to victory—and raising her and Miller’s son on her own.

The secret relationship, and bitter breakup, between these two high-profile Republicans—both of whom became cable news stars in 2016 as Trump campaign surrogates—has been the subject of widespread speculation in Washington since last December, when the scandal first burst into public view, causing Miller to turn down the job of White House communications director. The story faded from view in the months that followed, but it resurfaced last week in the gossip pages of the New York Post—prompting a flurry of late-night tweets from Delgado, and a rash of national news coverage.

In a series of interviews, Delgado told me her full story for the first time. In some ways, her experience is emblematic of the tensions that define this political moment. It’s the story of a woman with working-class roots navigating a world dominated by rich and powerful men; of a conservative Catholic who carried her baby to term despite feeling pressured to have an abortion, only to be ostracized by parts of the pro-life movement; of a president’s most visible Latina supporter who ended up on the sidelines after helping him win office.

But it’s also a deeply human story—of two flawed individuals whose personal lives and private mistakes are now being splashed across the tabloid press; and of a single mom who says she’s fighting for her son.

Delgado grew up in a blue-collar home in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, a daughter of Cuban immigrants. Her father was a bus driver; her mother stayed home and took care of Delgado and her sister. Smart and driven, Delgado worked her way through college at the University of Florida and then went on to Harvard Law School. She spent several years at a white-shoe law firm in Manhattan, before returning home to Miami where she began building her profile as a political commentator.

Like many in South Florida’s Cuban community, Delgado grew up a conservative. But her particular brand of politics veered from Republican orthodoxy in ways that would, years later, come to define Trumpism. Writing in venues like National Review and The American Conservative, she railed against the “war-happy” interventionism of GOP foreign policy, and championed immigration restrictionism when much of the conservative pundit class, in the wake of Mitt Romney’s defeat, was calling for moderation on the issue.

As the 2016 presidential primaries got underway, Delgado resisted the pull of the two Floridians in the field—Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio—and instead found herself gravitating toward Trump. In a Breitbart column in October 2015, she wrote that her father used to praise Donald Trump as a “a living testament of … capitalism’s greatness in action” when she was growing up. Decades later, Trump’s populist message on the campaign trail resonated with her. “He speaks for us little people,” she wrote. “Hate to break it to ya—but we don’t have much of a voice … At the end of the day, all [politicians] do their donors’ bidding, and the bidding of Big Business rather than ours. Try speaking up and you will be flattened.”

Before long, Delgado was talking up her candidate on cable news, where her forceful but friendly on-air style—and her unique status as an outspoken Latina Trump supporter—made her a favorite among bookers and hosts alike. Fox News’s Sean Hannity heralded her “incredible communications skills,” while MSNBC’s Chris Hayes called her “by far the most cogent, formidable surrogate for Trump of anyone who’s been doing TV appearances.”

The campaign took notice, and in September 2016 she was officially hired as a senior adviser. In an interview with Yahoo News, Miller—who was then serving as the campaign’s senior communications director—spoke glowingly of Delgado as a “triple threat” with ample “conservative street cred.” “The thing I love about A.J.,” he said, “is the range of audiences she can go and speak to.”

Delgado was assigned to work in the campaign’s press operation, coordinating outreach to Spanish-language media and appearing on national television to speak on the candidate’s behalf. She split her time between Miami and Manhattan, spending several days a week in Trump Tower. This is where she says her relationship with Miller began—working side by side to promote Trump’s message.

The two began dating in mid-October, Delgado said, adding that while she knew Miller was married, he told her at the time that he was separated from his wife. “Among other things, I was really drawn to his talent,” she told me. “He is the best at what he does.”

(Miller declined to discuss the details of his relationship with Delgado and their son, and responded to a series of questions with a statement from his attorney.)

Their relationship, as described by Delgado, was a far cry from the torrid fling that’s been recounted in gossip columns. She showed me text messages in which the two appear to be making dinner plans, affectionately calling each other “babe” and “bae,” and casually discussing how to leave the office together without provoking suspicion among colleagues.

After Trump’s surprise victory in November, Delgado and Miller both joined the transition team, where she says their relationship continued. But just a couple of weeks after Election Day, Delgado discovered she was pregnant. She held off at first on sharing the news, unsure of how Miller would take it.

“I finally told him one night when we were in bed and I couldn’t fall asleep,” she said.

Miller reacted calmly, Delgado recalled, but came back with some complicating news of his own. “Well this is going to be extra awkward for me to handle,” she remembers him saying, “because my wife is expecting.”

Not comprehending at first, Delgado replied, “Expecting what?”

“Obviously that floored me,” she told me. “It was a very rough thing to hear.”

Some women would have considered abortion. And according to Delgado, Miller asked her on two separate occasions if “there was any chance I’d terminate the pregnancy.” (Miller denied this.) But she told me she didn’t seriously entertain the notion. “The minute I knew I was pregnant, I knew I wanted him,” said Delgado. “I can’t explain it. This was somebody I wanted to meet, and wanted to have in my life. It was God telling me, ‘Hey, you should be a mom and I’m sending you this amazingly wonderful gift, so take it.’ There’s no way I was just going to say no thanks to God.”

But even as Delgado found happiness in her unexpected pregnancy, her relationship with the baby’s father deteriorated. The acrimony spilled into public view shortly before last Christmas, when Delgado chose to respond to Miller’s widely reported appointment as White House communications director with a series of cryptic tweets hinting at a sex scandal. “Congratulations to the baby-daddy on being named WH Comms Director,” read one.

Miller declined the job offer, citing a need to focus on his family. Delgado deactivated her account and went silent. The world moved on.

But the fallout from their affair didn’t take an equal toll on their lives and careers. After returning home to and reconciling with his wife, Miller joined the consulting firm Teneo, signed a contract with CNN as an on-air contributor, and has reportedly continued to advise the White House in an informal capacity.

Delgado did not join the White House staff, or land a plum appointment in a cabinet agency, and she stopped getting booked as a Trump surrogate on television. Instead, she moved in with her mother in Miami, and looked for work there.

In the months that followed, Delgado did her best to tune out the “haters” spewing invective on social media. “Every time I would even peek at Twitter, there would be comments calling me a homewrecker, an adulterer, a whore,” she told me. “I wanted to respond … but science says any stress you feel, the baby will feel. So I stayed quiet.”

Life on the political sidelines took some getting used to. She was forced to watch from home on her laptop when Trump got sworn into office. But she tried not to waste time on self-pity. She did nonprofit legal work, and channeled her energy toward getting ready for her baby's arrival. (“I put together the most gorgeous little nursery on a shoestring budget,” she boasted to me.)

At times, she said, preparing for single motherhood infused her with what she calls a “hear-me-roar” confidence. She recalled going to the post office one day when she was about eight months pregnant to pick up a bassinet she ordered on Amazon. The postal worker hesitated to hand over the heavy package, and asked, “Why didn’t you come with daddy? Where’s daddy?”

“I was like, ‘Lady, I’m about to pop and there is no daddy. Now give me the fucking bassinet so I can take it home.’”

But she also spent much of her pregnancy battling fear and loneliness. During those dark months, she said, she was buoyed by thoughtful words of encouragement from unexpected corners of the political-media class she once occupied. MSNBC’s Hayes reached out, as did the billionaire Shark Tank star Mark Cuban. She described one particularly low day: “I was sitting there crying at the dining room table, thinking, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this by myself.’” At that moment, she received a kind—and much-needed—email from the Fox News host Tucker Carlson telling her she was going to be a great mom.

When I asked Delgado how her former colleagues and friends from the Trump campaign had treated her, she declined to comment. (Campaign employees were reportedly made to sign extensive nondisclosure agreements.) But she allowed that not everyone in the political world has been as supportive as she’d hoped. She said she was especially disappointed with many in the conservative movement that she helped marshal in 2016.

“There were some … very high-profile people who are supposedly pro-life, who knew me and heard about what happened, and who didn’t reach out,” she said. “I thought it was very telling … You see these people saying, ‘Oh, we should reach out to women with unexpected pregnancies and let them know they’re not alone’—and I’m like, ‘I’m right here!’”

One leading pro-life figure with whom Delgado worked closely during the election was Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager. In a speech at the March for Life rally last January, Conway declared, “Our message and our positive action must also reach those women who face unplanned pregnancies. They should know they are not alone. They are not judged. They, too, are protected and cared for and celebrated.”

I asked Delgado if she heard from Conway during her pregnancy. “No,” she said.

But if there’s one person whose absence most roils Delgado, it’s her baby’s father. According to Delgado, she and Miller haven't spoken since December, and he has yet to provide any child support. In fact, she said, he only resurfaced through an attorney—after months of silence—a few weeks before their son was due.

“Jason Miller disappeared on the pregnancy, on his child, until June," Delgado told me. “I did it all myself. He never once called, texted, emailed to find out if I was receiving proper prenatal care, to find out the baby’s gender, to see if I had health insurance, or if there was anything he could help with. He never even inquired whether there was a baby registry so that he could send something.”

In July, Delgado gave birth to her son—21 inches long, just under 8 pounds, with auburn hair—and named him William.*

In a statement, Miller’s attorney, Ana Martin-Lavielle, said, “Jason’s sole desire and focus, which has been repeatedly expressed to Ms. Delgado and to her attorneys, even prior to William’s birth, is to be involved in all aspects of his son’s life. This includes being supportive of William emotionally and financially, as well as sharing time with William and jointly making decisions for his health and well-being. Jason remains ready and willing to provide financial support for his son, and, in the absence of any cooperation from Ms. Delgado, has offered to do so through the appropriate legal channels.”

Delgado said she continues to hold out hope that she and Miller will find a way to be successful co-parents. (She said she recently obtained the services of Evan Marks, a heavy-hitting Miami attorney, in an effort to reach a resolution.) But so far, she told me, Miller isn’t making things easy.

She was particularly hurt when Miller demanded a paternity test shortly after William was born. She thought the test was unnecessary, but agreed anyway, asking only that they wait until after the baby received his two-month vaccination shots. She wanted to mitigate the risk of the newborn getting sick from his exposure to the lab tech performing the test. But, she said, Miller's lawyer insisted that it couldn't wait.

The lab tech came to Delgado's home, swabbed the baby's mouth, and then—following protocol—made her pose for a picture with William, holding up a numbered sign. "One of the first photos my son took was ... like a mug shot," she told me, her voice breaking. “I hated seeing that picture of my son. That was a very ugly thing to do.”

From the moment Delgado decided to keep her baby, she said, she has had to ward off a persistent feeling that she is somehow being unreasonable by standing up for herself. “You feel like you’re being stubborn; that you’re supposed to kind of acquiesce to what everyone else’s requests are—and if you don’t, you’re just this crazy girl,” she said. “I’ve actually had people ask me, ‘Are you sure you’re not just overreacting to this whole thing because you’re hormonal?’”

She was reluctant at first to publicly share news of William’s birth because she dreaded the scandal coverage that would inevitably follow. But her maternal pride eventually won out. “I felt like I was acting ashamed of his birth, and that’s not true at all.”

She announced the birth on Twitter last week, and was met with a deluge of unexpectedly warm messages. “Everyone kept it incredibly positive,” she said. But the next day, she was blindsided by a New York Post gossip item headlined, “Ex-Trump staffers reveal love child after campaign trail sex scandal.” The article included a statement from Miller saying he and his family were “excited to welcome William into the world.”

Among the factual inaccuracies Delgado said the article contained, she was most upset by the suggestion that her baby was conceived during a one-night stand in Las Vegas. She decided to grant me an interview, she said, because she didn’t want a tabloid story to be the final word on the matter.

“[William] could someday read that and think he was conceived in some Vegas nightclub bathroom, when it couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said. “He came out of what was a really nice, sweet relationship between two people who met on the campaign trail and liked each other a lot … I won’t allow you to say he came out of a boorish, vulgar, scandalous night. It’s a matter of defending my son.”

I asked Delgado why it was that she seemed so preoccupied with how her son would read the news coverage of his birth.

She thought about it. “He came out of a very tumultuous, crazy time in the country’s history,” she told me. “He has this eccentric, unique story behind his creation.” Maybe it was strange, she said, but she hoped he might someday come to find that inspiring—and she wanted to make sure there was an accurate record of how it happened.

So, I asked, what do you want William to know when he reads this story someday?

“That even sitting here in a nightgown, past midnight, while your grandma’s watching you—” she stopped herself, and began to cry. “Just that all of this has been worth it. This is grueling now, and it’s annoying to have to deal with the public’s viciousness but I’d do it all day every day if it means I get to have you.”

* This article originally stated that Delgado's son was 26 inches long when he was born. We regret the error.