Aug 5, 2017

The Mooch's replacement could be Stephen Miller

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Stephen Miller, the Trump senior policy adviser who just tangled on-camera with CNN's Jim Acosta, is under consideration for White House communications director, top Trump sources tell me.

The effort to find a Mooch successor is still in the name-gathering process, and Miller is not the top contender, the sources said.

  • But Steve Bannon likes the idea of Miller for the job, and Miller was the hero of the West Wing after he attacked Acosta as a "cosmopolitan" for his views on immigration.
  • When Miller finished that press briefing, his colleagues high-fived him, according to Sebastian Gorka, a national-security aide who's a favorite of the president's for his over-the-top TV hits.
  • The super-key point: Trump cares primarily about how people perform on TV. He's totally uninterested in the behind-the-scenes, unglamorous planning work of a comms director.

Miller is proudly hardline nationalist, and a favorite of the Trump faithful:

  • As a top aide to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, Miller was a central player in ginning up opposition to the "Gang of 8" bipartisan effort at immigration reform.
  • He has a "Rainman" ability to recall immigration statistics.
  • When Miller worked in Sessions' office, he was effectively an adjunct of the Breitbart editorial team. He'd work closely with Julia Hahn — then Breitbart's immigration reporter, and now a White House colleague — on stories favoring nationalist immigration positions. A former colleague of Hahn's said Miller "mentored" Hahn.
  • Miller was famous for bugging reporters at all hours with his story pitches, and seemingly had a direct line to Matt Drudge. The running joke was that the Sessions office had a permanent lease on at least one of the prized top-left Drudge links.

Many in the GOP establishment think Miller has been unpersuasive in his few trips to the TV cameras and the briefing room.

  • But Trump has dug the performances, and West Wing insiders thought Acosta looked like a jackass — boosting Miller's stock at a crucial moment.
  • Trump loves nothing more than watching his people berate the "fake news" media on live TV. Gorka was effectively a non-entity, sitting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and working for Bannon (who had to argue hard to save Gorka's job) until he began tearing shreds of CNN anchors.
  • Now Gorka is a Trump favorite — effectively protected while national security adviser H.R. McMaster purges others.
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