As Sunday morning dawned, one question was obvious. How would Donald Trump try to defend himself in the wake of his rotten first week of 2018? We saw the release of an explosive book that largely confirms what we long suspected–we have a president whose relationship with reality is, at times, tenuous at best. And Trump’s attempt to defend himself on Saturday morning only served to prove it.
Well, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller was one of the first White House aides to draw that assignment. It didn’t go well.
Miller stopped by CNN’s “State of the Union” to talk about a variety of topics with host Jake Tapper. But Miller was more interested in pounding the table and yelling like hell. Watch here.
The interview went off the rails from the start. Tapper asked Miller if Trump himself met with any of the Russians who were on hand for the now-infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. Tapper was giving Miller a chance to respond to Steve Bannon’s suggestion in Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury,” that Donald Trump Jr. “walk(ed) these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor” of Trump Tower.
Miller didn’t take it. Instead, he fired pot-shots at the messengers. He called Bannon “an angry, vindictive person spouting off to a highly discreditable author.” He slammed the book as “a work of poorly written fiction” and “a garbage book written by a garbage author. He then offered a maudlin paean to Trump, whom he praised as a political genius.
This went on for a minute and 20 seconds. It was only when Tapper asked his original question again that he got Miller to actually answer it. Miller said that he had “no knowledge of anything to do with that meeting.”
And so it went for the next 10 minutes. Miller didn’t seem to have any interest in answering questions, even though Tapper had prepared a number of questions about the book, as well as Bannon’s role in implementing the travel ban and other topics. Instead, Miller attacked CNN’s coverage of Trump over the last few years, repeating the traditional Trump line that the media and the political class didn’t see what was coming.
When Miller again called Trump a political genius, Tapper recalled that Trump was the only person who called himself a genius. Tapper mused that Trump was watching CNN right now, “and I’m sure he’s happy you said that”–prompting Miller to scream that Tapper was being “condescending” and making “a snide remark.” Finally, Tapper told Miller to “settle down,” as if Miller was an insolent child.
When Tapper asked Miller about Bannon’s role in a number of issues, he wondered how Trump could say with a straight face that Bannon had “nothing to do with my Presidency.” Miller replied that Bannon’s role had been “greatly exaggerated,” and again slammed CNN for not giving Trump enough credit for tapping into the sentiments of the “forgotten people.” He claimed that all he wanted to do was give the American people “two or three minutes of the truth.”
But his attempt at giving Americans “the truth” proved to be a rehash of what Miller had already said, prompting Tapper to try to steer the conversation to Miller’s role in the draft of the letter telling FBI Director James Comey he was fired. An initial draft, according to The New York Times, mentioned the Russia investigation. But Miller claimed the final draft was the real issue.
Tapper then asked Miller about his Saturday morning tweetstorm, prompting Miller to slam CNN for creating a “toxic environment” by peddling “fake news,” Tapper tried to steer the question about Trump’s fitness. Miller tried to say the real issue was CNN’s fitness, claiming that CNN didn’t understand that Trump had “tapped into something magical” in this country–something CNN wasn’t willing to cover.
Tapper replied that he actually wanted to ask questions about those topics, and Miller was trying to “filibuster” by talking about his experiences with Trump. When it was obvious that Miller was still filibustering, Tapper had had enough.
“I get it. There is one viewer that you care about right now. And you’re being obsequious, you’re being a factotum in order to please him, okay? And I think I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time. Thank you, Stephen.”
He then went to break and turned off Miller’s mic.
Incredibly, there are some who actually think Miller won this interview–starting with Trump himself.
Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2018
That sentiment was shared by a number of Trump diehards.
Stephen Miller: Let’s talk about CNN’s track record for a minute
Jake Tapper: *immediately cuts to commercial*
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) January 7, 2018
Stephen Miller vs Jake Tapper wasn’t a discussion, it was Gorilla Channel
And everyone watched it
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) January 7, 2018
Stephen Miller: “Why don’t you give me 3 minutes to tell your viewers the truth about the Donald Trump I know”
Jake Tapper: “Because it’s my show and I don’t want to do that”
The fake news bias will never end!
— The Trump Train (@The_Trump_Train) January 7, 2018
Fake Jake Tapper showed why media cowards will never debate one on one. If they don’t have power to cut off guests, they lose. Stephen Miller crushed fake Jake, who then had to run and hide.
— Mike Cernovich 🇺🇸 (@Cernovich) January 7, 2018
Um, when a reporter is having to tell a White House staffer to settle down, it’s not going well–for the staffer. I don’t recall ever seeing that happen in my nearly 40 years on this planet.
It’s amazing that Tapper let Miller stay on the air for as long as he did. After all, most of Miller’s responses were a long-winded version of yelling “FAKE NEWS!” Tapper displayed almost saintlike patience in trying to actually get Miller to answer questions.
Miller himself hasn’t offered a defense. Indeed, his Twitter account has been silent since July 2017–and that was just passing on a retweet. He hasn’t actually tweeted on his own since July 2016. The fact Miller hasn’t spoken up suggests that he knows that Tapper made him–and his boss–look foolish.
(featured image courtesy Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)