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White House blocks adviser 'in charge' of immigration from testifying

The White House doesn’t want the public to hear from racist Muslim ban author and top Trump aide Stephen Miller.

By Emily Singer - April 25, 2019
Stephen Miller
White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017.

The White House on Wednesday informed Congress that it will refuse to allow racist Trump aide Stephen Miller to testify on his role in the Trump administration’s immigration policies — yet another instance in which the White House is blatantly defying Congress.

“In accordance with long-standing precedent, we respectfully decline the invitation to make Mr. Miller available for testimony,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD).

Cummings requested Miller’s testimony earlier in April, after reports surfaced that Miller was newly empowered after the firing of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to install profoundly racist policies designed to punish asylum seekers and limit immigration even more. Those policies included jailing immigrant children for longer periods, making it harder for legal asylum seekers to work once they arrive in the U.S., and increasing the standards asylum seekers need to meet to have their petitions granted.

“I am inviting you to testify before the Committee because it appears that you are one of the primary moving forces behind some of the most significant — and in my view troubling — policies coming out of the Trump White House,” Cummings wrote in the April 17 letter to Miller.

The news that Miller — who helped author Trump’s racist Muslim ban — was being given more power to oversee the administration’s immigration strategy caused an uproar from House Democrats, including Cummings, who wrote in his letter requesting Miller’s testimony that he wanted Miller “to make your case to the Committee and the American people about why you — and presumably President Trump — believe it is good policy for the Trump administration to take the actions it has, including intentionally separating immigrant children from their parents at the border.”

“I understand that you may not want to submit yourself to rigorous questioning by a full panel of Committee Members, some of whom have grave concerns about your views and your actions,” Cummings wrote in his April 17 letter. “However, since President Trump recently announced that you are ‘in charge of handling all immigration and border affairs,’ it makes sense for Congress to hear directly from you about how federal agencies are implementing your policies.”

Cummings set an April 24 deadline for Miller’s response. The White House stuck to that deadline, but announced it would block Miller’s testimony.

This is just the latest Trump administration move to defy a congressional request or subpoena for testimony or documents — thwarting Congress’ legal power to conduct oversight of the executive branch.

Trump is obstructing numerous congressional inquiries, including efforts to look into Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, as well as legal attempts to obtain Trump’s personal tax returns.

The problem has gotten so bad that Cummings on Wednesday issued a warning to White House aides to “think very carefully” before they defy congressional subpoenas to testify or turn over documents.

“These employees and their personal attorneys should think very carefully about their own legal interests rather than being swept up in the obstruction schemes of the Trump Administration,” Cummings said in a statement.

It remains to be seen whether Cummings will issue a similar warning to Miller, after he defied a request to testify.

But the public deserves to hear from Miller himself about his racist efforts to punish immigrants.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. 

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