During the White House press briefing this afternoon, Senior Advisor Stephen Miller railed against CNN’s Jim Acosta, calling one of his statements about immigration “outrageous,” “ignorant,” “insulting,” and “foolish.”
Miller was at the briefing on Wednesday after President Trump announced his support for the RAISE Act, which would reduce the rate of legal immigration in the United States. CNN reporter Jim Acosta questioned Miller on the idea of requiring immigrants to learn English before they come to the United States, asking, “Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?”
Miller subsequently criticized Jim Acosta for saying this, spending about a full minute doing so. His rant about Acosta begins at the 3:30 mark in the embedded Twitter video via C-SPAN.
“I have to honestly say, I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English,” Miller said. “It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree…This is an amazing moment.”
Miller went on to say that the notion that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English is “so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants who do speak English from all over the world,” asking, “Jim, have you honestly never met an immigrant from another country who speaks English outside of Great Britain and Australia?” Miller then said that Acosta’s statement was “one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish things you’ve ever said…”
This whole exchange between Acosta and Miller began with Acosta asking whether the RAISE Act is in violation of the United States’ principle to “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” referring to “The New Colossus,” the sonnet that is etched onto the Statue of Liberty. Miller dismissed this and downplayed the significance of Emma Lazarus’ sonnet.
“The poem that you’re referring to was added later,” Miller said. “It’s not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”
Acosta argued that the Statue of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world, even before the Emma Lazarus sonnet was added, and Miller sarcastically told Acosta that “I appreciate your speech.” Miller then pointed to past instances of the United States limiting immigration, asking, “In 1970, when we let in 300,000 people a year, is that violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land? …Tell me what years meet Jim Acosta’s definition of the Statue of Liberty poem law of the land.”
At the end of this lengthy argument, which lasted almost seven minutes, Miller said he was sorry that things got a bit tense.
“I apologize, Jim, if things got heated, but you did make some pretty rough insinuations,” Miller told Acosta before passing things off to Sarah Huckabee Sanders and sarcastically adding, “I think that went exactly as planned. I think that was what Sarah was hoping would happen. I think that’s exactly what we were hoping to have happen.”
This was not the first contentious exchange between Stephen Miller and a reporter during the White House press briefing this afternoon. Earlier, Miller argued with The New York Times’ Glenn Thrush, who asked for some statistics that show a correlation between low-skilled immigration and the loss of jobs for American workers. Although Miller named a few studies, he did not cite specific numbers as Thrush asked for.
“Let’s also use common sense here, folks,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, why do special interests want to bring in more low-skilled workers?”
Thrush chimed in to say that he was asking for statistics, not common sense. Miller shot back with, “I think it’s very clear, Glenn, that you’re not asking for common sense.” As Thrush continued to push for statistics, Miller told him that his newspaper should hire low-skilled workers.
“Maybe we’ll make a carve-out in the bill that says The New York Times can hire all the low skilled, less pay workers they want from other countries, and see how you feel then about low-wage substitution,” Miller said.
According to The Hill’s Jordan Fabian, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was seen cracking a smile as Miller argued with reporters this afternoon.
Stephen Miller is the White House’s senior advisor for policy. He was one of the architects of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, and he stepped into the spotlight back in February when he appeared on several political talk shows to defend the executive order. During an interview on Face the Nation, Miller notably said that President Trump’s powers are beyond question.
“We have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many cases a supreme branch of government,” Miller said. “Our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”