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Stephen Miller And White Nationalism

The Southern Poverty Law Center says emails show Stephen Miller promoted white nationalist theories.

Transcript:

NOEL KING, HOST:

Several congressional Democrats are demanding that Stephen Miller resign. Miller, of course, is one of the president's top advisers on immigration. Here's what's going on. The Southern Poverty Law Center says it got a hold of hundreds of Miller's leaked emails. Miller had sent them to a former journalist at Breitbart, and in them, he talks about white nationalist ideas. The White House is calling this a smear campaign. And Miller, for the moment, isn't saying anything.

Jean Guerrero is a reporter at KPBS. She's been writing a book about Stephen Miller, and she has seen the emails. Good morning, Jean.

JEAN GUERRERO, BYLINE: Good morning.

KING: So what are the specifics here? What's in these emails?

GUERRERO: Yeah. So these are emails that were sent to Breitbart editors in 2015 and 2016. And to me, the most revealing part is that Miller recommended a book called "Camp Of The Saints." It's a racist book that depicts the, quote, "end of the white world" after being overrun by refugees. It's filled with descriptions that are horrifically degrading. Just as an example, it describes migrants as, quote, "kinky-haired, swarthy-skinned, long-despised phantoms" and as "teeming ants toiling for the white man's comfort."

KING: Ugh.

GUERRERO: Yeah. And Stephen Miller basically told Breitbart to do a story showing parallels between the book and real life. Julia Hahn, who later became a special assistant to President Trump, did a story saying that immigration could doom society, just like in the book. Steve Bannon, who was Breitbart News' executive at the time, also started talking about the book after that. He later served as Trump's chief strategist but left in 2017.

It's also important to note that the emails show Miller encouraging Breitbart to pull news from a white supremacist website that promotes the great replacement theory. That's a conspiracy theory that says people of color are systematically wiping out the white race, a falsehood that's motivated white terrorist shootings.

KING: All right. So Stephen Miller is giving Breitbart advice on what to print, and it appears that they are printing it. How...

GUERRERO: Exactly.

KING: ...Did these emails end up coming out in the first place?

GUERRERO: So a journalist named Katie McHugh worked at Breitbart at the time. Breitbart editors had introduced her to Miller as someone who would influence the direction of her reporting. McHugh was fired in 2017 for anti-Muslim tweets, and she's since renounced the far-right movement. She shared her Breitbart emails with the SPLC. I spoke with McHugh, and she says Miller expressed a real familiarity with white supremacist literature. There's more than 900 emails, and the Southern Poverty Law Center plans to roll them out slowly, including some new ones that should be coming out today.

KING: So Stephen Miller did this a couple years ago, right? Where was he working?

GUERRERO: He was working with the Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, and then he joined the Trump campaign in January 2016.

KING: OK. I get it. And so the reason that some Democrats are calling for him to resign after seeing these emails and hearing news of them is because, at the moment, Stephen Miller is a key policy adviser in the Trump White House.

GUERRERO: Exactly. So he's the big guy on immigration, and we can see some of what was captured in the emails in Trump's immigration policy. So Trump often says he's focused on stopping people coming into the U.S. illegally - criminals, drug traffickers. But they've also put sharp limits on legal immigration. For example, the number of refugee admissions has been slashed. They're restricting access to U.S. asylum for Central Americans. They're restricting access to green cards for lower-income immigrants. Together, these actions have dramatically limited legal flows of people to the U.S. from Africa and Latin America.

These emails highlight some of the white nationalist ideas that my reporting shows are embraced by Miller in his formation of these policies. Again, I reached out to Miller for comment, but he did not respond.

KING: OK. KPBS reporter Jean Guerrero. Jean, thanks so much.

GUERRERO: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.