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.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,014,673 — Total deaths: 52,973 — Total recoveries: 210,335Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 244,678 — Total deaths: 5,911 — Total recoveries: 9,058Map.
  3. 2020 updates: The Democratic National Committee said its July convention will be postponed until August because of the coronavirus. A federal judge declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election.
  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for all states across the U.S. to issue stay-at-home orders. The FDA will allow blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Mark Meadows considers new White House press secretary

Photos: Alyssa Farah, Defense Department; Stephanie Grisham, Alex Wong/Getty Images; Kayleigh McEnany, Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has privately discussed bringing on Pentagon spokesperson Alyssa Farah or Trump campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany as a new White House press secretary, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Meadows' start on Tuesday as Trump's new chief presents a chance to overhaul a press shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.

CNN: Fauci advises all states issue stay-at-home orders

Dr. Anthony Fauci listens to President Trump speak during a briefing on April 1. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci recommended on Thursday that all states across the U.S. implement stay-at-home orders, at a CNN town hall.

Why it matters: The recommendation stands in contrast to President Trump's calls for "flexibility." Nearly 4o states have issued stay-at-home orders to promote social distancing as a way to combat the novel coronavirus — but the orders vary in strictness and duration.

Go deeperArrow4 hours ago - Health