Of all the outlandish explanations of President Donald Trump’s 13-second silence as a rowdy North Carolina crowd chanted “send her back” in reference to Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Stephen Miller’s takes the cake.
Here’s the exchange between “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace and Miller, a senior policy adviser at the White House.
MILLER: The — first of all — and I’m glad we can now get to what I think we really want to focus on, with the “send her back” chant, the President was clear that he disagreed with it.
WALLACE: No, he was clear — he was clear after the fact. He let — Excuse me, he let it go on for 13 seconds and it was only when the chant diminished that he started talking again.
MILLER: Right, but —
WALLACE: He said nothing there — he said nothing in his tweet — I promise I’m going to (INAUDIBLE), but he said nothing there or in his tweet after the rally that indicated any concern about the chant.
MILLER: Right, but I want to get to the core issue. The President was clear that he said he disagreed with that tweet, but the core issue is that all the people in that audience and millions of patriotic Americans all across this country are tired of being beat up, condescended to, looked down upon, talked down to by members of Congress on the left in Washington, DC, and their allies in many corners of the media.
There’s a lot Miller gets wrong here — and plenty of stuff I can’t even figure out what, exactly, he is saying.
The obvious error — and it is 100% intentional — is Miller’s contention that “the President was clear” that he “disagreed” with the chant. Here’s why that is flat wrong.
1. When the chant began to rise, Trump stopped speaking and went silent for 13 seconds — allowing it to rise to a deafening crescendo in the arena.
2. When the chant ended, and Trump began speaking again, he not only made no rebuke of the crowd for it but also went right back to attacking Omar, a Somali-born naturalized US citizen.
3. The only distance Trump tried to create from the chants was last Thursday when he told reporter this: “I think I did — I started speaking very quickly. I was not happy with [the chant] — I disagree with it.” Points one and two fundamentally disprove the idea that Trump “started speaking very quickly.” Didn’t happen.
4. On Friday, asked by a reporter whether he was “unhappy” with the chants, Trump responded this way: “No, you know what I’m unhappy with — the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country. I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things.”
It is beyond debate a) what Trump did in North Carolina and b) that he knew what he was doing — both then and in the day following.
Now to the second part of Miller’s response to Wallace.
Candidly, I have zero idea what Miller is responding to when he says “the President was clear that he said he disagreed with that tweet.” The only tweet in question here was the one Trump sent after the North Carolina rally that made no mention of the chant — and certainly didn’t condemn it. He praised the “great enthusiasm” of the crowd. (Miller likely misspoke — saying “tweet” when he meant “chant.” Also, again, the President was not clear at all that he disagreed with the chant.)
Moving on, Miller is trying to suggest that what Trump meant — both by his tweets eight days ago telling four Democratic congresswomen to go back where they came from and in his condoning the “send her back” chants — is that “all the people in that audience and millions of patriotic Americans all across this country are tired of being beat up, condescended to, looked down upon, talked down to by members of Congress on the left.”
Uh, what? Yes, there’s no question that Omar and her fellow “Squad” members — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts) and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan) — have a very different vision than Trump for the future of the country and have condemned this President — and his policies — in very stark terms.
But to argue, as Miller is doing, that Trump’s racist tweets and willingness to countenance a deeply anti-American chant is somehow the result of being provoked by the mean words of four duly elected members of Congress is beyond far-fetched.
Trump sent those tweets and let that chant grow because he knows that weaponizing racial resentment and grievance works for his political interests. Period. Miller’s attempts to justify those actions by the President are, in a word, laughable.