- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2019

House Democratic chairmen said Thursday they’ll investigate whether senior presidential adviser Stephen Miller orchestrated the resignations of several Homeland Security officials, as the White House rejected lawmakers’ invitation for the immigration hard-liner to testify about President Trump’s policies.

The chairmen also suggested the country is less safe now after the shakeup.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, one of her undersecretaries and the heads of the Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement all departed the Trump administration earlier this month in rapid succession.

The Democratic chairmen — Reps. Jerrold Nadler of New York at Judiciary, Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland at Oversight and Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi at Homeland Security — said they suspect Mr. Miller was behind the moves.

Mr. Miller is an influential voice in the West Wing for tougher immigration policies. The left also views him as a bogeyman driving policies such as family separation of illegal immigrants, and a proposal to transport asylum seekers to sanctuary cities controlled by Democrats.



“These actions are apparently part of a pattern of Mr. Miller pressuring administration officials, including civil servants, to change immigration rules, increase enforcement and publicly release identifying information about detained immigrants,” the chairmen wrote.

The committees demanded that acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan turn over any of his communications and those of the ousted officials that involve personnel discussions.

Mr. Cummings sought to get Mr. Miller to testify to his committee next week, but the White House rejected that request in a letter late Wednesday, saying the president’s top advisers who do not go through Senate confirmation have traditionally been protected from congressional demands under the separation of powers.

“In accordance with long-standing precedent, we respectfully decline the invitation to make Mr. Miller available for testimony before the committee,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone told the committee.

Mr. Cipollone said the precedent for White House staff to decline invitations to testify before congressional committees “has been consistently adhered to by administrations of both political parties and is based on clearly established constitutional doctrines.”

The White House cited Justice Department guidance that says the president’s top advisers are immune from the congressional testimony. The rejection comes as Mr. Trump is digging in against a broad array of subpoenas from House Democrats delving into his administration’s policies and his business dealings.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is compiling what he describes as a “really detailed” proposal to fix the U.S. immigration system, said this week he has “not had any fights” with Mr. Miller.

Mr. Kushner, considered a more moderate voice in the West Wing, is expected to deliver the plan to the president within the next week, and said Mr. Trump will likely propose changes to it.

Democrats and pro-immigration groups view Mr. Miller as a malevolent force in the White House against immigration. Voto Latino said in a fundraising email this month that Mr. Miller “has played an influential role in crafting some of Trump’s very worst policies over the last two years.”

The group blames Mr. Miller for authoring the administration’s temporary ban on immigrants from several predominantly Muslim countries; arguing to cut legal immigration limits in half; playing a central role in Ms. Nielsen’s resignation; and crafting the now-halted policy of separating families at the border. 

Stephen Miller is the most RUTHLESS choice imaginable for Trump to place in charge of immigration policy,” the group said.

The House chairmen said they are “deeply concerned that the firing and forced resignation of these [DHS] officials puts the security of the American people at risk.”

“We are also concerned that the president may have removed DHS officials because they refused his demands to violate federal immigration law and judicial orders,” they said. “Moreover, we are concerned by reports that, even as he has removed the Department’s leadership, the president has sought to empower … Stephen Miller, to ‘be in charge of handling all immigration and border affairs.’”

 

 

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