One doesn’t have to be a media expert to know what was coming. As soon as CNN announced Saturday that White House adviser Stephen Miller would be a guest on Sunday’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper, everyone knew it would likely be ugly. Yet if we cut through all the drama, awkwardness and cringe-worthy back-and-forth, the interview was important as much for what Miller didn’t say than what he and Tapper actually said.
Tapper was exactly right this past Sunday: Miller was attempting a filibuster while evading, deflecting, insulting and obnoxiously using words like “tragedy” and “grotesque” to speak to, as Tapper pointed out, “an audience of one.” The host eventually put us out of our miser by saying, “I think I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time and abruptly ended the interview. Tapper turned out to be right about the audience.
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
Apparently, things got worse once Miller was cut off. Business Insider was the first to report Miller had to be escorted off the set when he refused to leave. Swell.
So what was the major takeaway from the substance of the interview? A serious question remains as to whether Donald Trump actually knew about—or even met with—the Russians who enticed Donald, Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner into a meeting by promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The standard Trump party line is that Candidate Trump didn’t know about the meeting and certainly didn’t meet with the principals involved.
Miller had a chance Sunday to that question to rest. He left us with more questions than answers.
A quick recap: On June 8, 2016, then-Trump Campaign Chairman (now-indicted) Paul Manafort, campaign adviser (Trump and son-in-law) Jared Kushner, Donald Trump, Jr. and a group of Russian hold a meeting in Trump Tower. The campaign officials were enticed into the meeting with a promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The day before, June 7, 2016, Trump said, “I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week, and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons,” Trump said during a speech after winning the California, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota and New Jersey primaries. “I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting. I wonder if the press will want to attend. Who knows?”
The promise of an important speech on all things Clinton comes the day before the Russian meeting. The meeting turns out to be a dud—a Clinton-dirt-free affair. Trump never makes the promised speech.
The logical question is whether, in addition to Manafort, Kushner and Donald, Jr., were the Russians brought up to see the candidate while they were meeting with top campaign officials? Steven Bannon’s comments in the new, incendiary book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” open the question again.
“The chance that Don Jr. did not walk these jumos [Russians] up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero,” Bannon is quoted as telling the author, Michael Wolff. Stephen Miller did nothing to end the speculation on “State of the Union.”
A scramble on Air Force One to explain the flop apparently followed with reports that Trump himself dictated what the cover story should be.
Miller not surprisingly embarrassed himself on CNN but his antics shouldn’t not obscure his failure to put to rest a major question about possible Russian collusion with the Russians.