White House senior adviser Stephen Miller was by turns combative and obsequious in an interview Sunday with CNN’s Jake Tapper – veering from savaging former ally Steve Bannon and author Michael Wolff to lauding President Donald Trump’s intelligence and political savvy.
It was something to behold. Below are the most memorable Miller lines from an epic back-and-forth. (It’s worth watching the whole thing!)
1. “Steve Bannon’s eloquence in that description notwithstanding, it’s tragic and unfortunate that Steve would make these grotesque comments.”
OK, I get what Miller is going for in condemning Bannon’s comments to Wolff. But, this is not a tragedy in any way, shape or form. Also, “grotesque”? Sort of an odd word choice.
2. “I also will say that the author is a garbage author of a garbage book.”
Garbage author! Garbage book!
3. “And the tragic thing about this book …”
Again, none of this is a tragedy. People dying in an earthquake or a fire or a terrorist attack is a tragedy. A book about the palace intrigue in the White House is not a tragedy.
4. “I saw a man who was a political genius, somebody who we would be going down, landing, in descent there would be a breaking news development. And in 20 minutes, he would dictate 10 paragraphs of new material to address that event …”
This is interesting. Miller’s idea of political genius is someone who is able to rapidly process breaking information and incorporate it into his basic appeal to voters. Which, I would agree with, is a kind of genius that most very, very successful politicians possess.
5. “I have no knowledge of anything to do with that meeting.”
OK, so Miller was not at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russians. Doesn’t know anything about it. Got it.
6. “But what I can tell you unequivocally is that the allegations and insinuations in this book, which are – which are a pure work of fiction, are nothing but a pile of trash through and through.”
So, wait. Miller just said he wasn’t at the Trump Tower meeting. And that he doesn’t know anything about it. How, then, can he insist that everything Wolff writes about that meeting – and the book more generally – is a “pure work of fiction”?
7. “Your network’s been going 24/7 with all the salacious coverage. … I know that it brings a lot of you guys a lot of joy to trying to stick the knife in.”
Nope! CNN covered the book just like every other serious media organization: Detail the allegations made by Wolff, fact-check them and then analyze them. For all of Miller’s misdirection – “salacious” – those are the facts.
8. “I see sections of the book where events I participated in are described, and I have firsthand knowledge that, as they’re described, they’re completely and totally fraudulent.”
OK, now we are getting somewhere! Miller is absolutely within his rights to say, “I was at these events Wolff describes, and it didn’t happen the way he said it did.” But we need specifics! Details! What events are wrong – and how are they wrong?
9. “One of the other tragedies of this grotesque work of fiction is its portrayal of the President.”
Not. A. Tragedy.
10. “The reality is, is the President is a political genius who won against a field of 17 incredibly talented people.”
Miller wants you to know that he thinks Trump is a political genius. But, really, he wants President Trump to know he thinks Trump is a political genius.
11. “The President’s first speech that he gave, unfiltered, unscripted, that was Donald Trump.”
So say we all.
12. “You know, Jake, you can be – no, no, you can condescending.”
Ruh roh. This is where the interview starts to go sideways on Miller.
13. “No, you can – you can condescending.”
I can condescending from time to time. Believe me.
14. “I will tell you why I’m attacking you.”
You’ve got to appreciate the frankness of Miller here: I am going to tell you why I am about to punch you in the gut.
15. “Steve Bannon didn’t push the travel ban.”
Uh, what? You – and Miller – should read this.
16. “You get 24 hours of negative, anti-Trump, hysterical coverage on this network …”
This is something the Trump inner circle never gets about the media. We aren’t anti-anything. We are pro facts. So, if you are fast and loose with the facts, then it’s going to look like the media is against you. But, really, we are against people who don’t tell the truth.
17. “Why don’t you just give me three minutes to tell you the truth of the Donald Trump.”
I’ll translate this for you: “Why don’t you let me say whatever I want – facts be damned – without challenging me or correcting the record.” And the reason is because that’s not journalism. The end.
18. “I think that what the point is, is that his role has been greatly exaggerated, whereas the President hasn’t gotten the due that he deserves for the movement that he put together to tap into the kinds of people whose life concerns don’t get a lot of attention on CNN.”
So, Bannon didn’t have any influence. And everything Trump did that was good was because Trump is a very stable genius. And anything bad that happened to Trump was because the mainstream media is biased. Got it? Good!
19. “He would be able to come up with material in the blink of an eye.”
If you missed this point: Miller thinks Trump is a super-genius. Like, Professor Charles Xavier smart.
20. “If you want to have an answer to your question, and not to get hysterical, then I will answer it.”
I’m not being hysterical! You’re being hysterical! I am TOTALLY CALM.
21. “The investigation is referenced in the beginning of the final letter that was released to point out about the fact that, notwithstanding having been informed that there is no investigation, that the – that the move that is happening is completely unrelated to that.”
Try to diagram this sentence. I dare you.
22. “The President’s tweets absolutely reaffirm the plainspoken truth.”
Very. Stable. Genius.
23. “Don’t – no, don’t be condescending. Jake, Jake, Jake …”
I can’t put my finger on why, but this is my favorite Miller line in the interview. “Jake, Jake, Jake, Jake, Jake.”
24. “No, no, because – you’re being – no.