Miles Taylor is the former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security in President Donald Trump’s administration who on Monday endorsed Joe Biden for president, calling his experience in the administration “terrifying.”
In a Washington Post op-ed, Taylor said the United States is significantly less safe under Trump’s presidency and that Trump governs based on “whim, political calculation and self-interest.”
Taylor is currently on leave from a cybersecurity position at Google, and he served as chief of staff to former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who oversaw the country’s controversial Muslim travel ban and family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexican border.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Taylor Said Trump Was Obsessed With the Border Wall & Made Immigration Policy Choices to Benefit Himself Politically
In his August 17 op-ed, Taylor recalled his time working in the Department of Homeland Security under Nielsen between 2017 and 2019. Trump, he said, tried to turn the country’s largest law enforcement agency into a “tool used for his political benefit.”
In a March 28, 2019, oval office meeting, Trump instructed DHS to close the California-Mexico border or to “dump” undocumented immigrants into Democratically run cities and states to cause problems for their authorities, according to Taylor. He also described a moment during February 2019 negotiations with Congress to avoid a government shutdown when Trump “demanded” a phone briefing on the color of his desired border wall.
Taylor claimed there were “episodes” like that almost every week.
Also, after the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting anyone crossing the border illegally and separating children from their families at the border was stopped, Trump wouldn’t let it go, according to Taylor, even trying for a more targeted policy of specifically pulling apart families as a deterrent.
Nielsen refused to go along with Trump’s directives, Taylor said.
2. According to Taylor, Trump Cared Little About Cybersecurity or Domestic Terrorism & Wasted DHS Officials’ Time With Politically Motivated Requests
Taylor alleged that Trump did not take cybersecurity, domestic terrorism or foreign interference in U.S. politics seriously, instead spending much time making demands of DHS to implement policies that could help his re-election — including trying to get sharper spikes atop his border wall.
Taylor minced no words in describing what working at DHS was like under Trump, in his opinion:
Top DHS officials were regularly diverted from dealing with genuine security threats by the chore of responding to these inappropriate and often absurd executive requests, at all hours of the day and night. One morning it might be a demand to shut off congressionally appropriated funds to a foreign ally that had angered him, and that evening it might be a request to sharpen the spikes atop the border wall so they’d be more damaging to human flesh (“How much would that cost us?”). Meanwhile, Trump showed vanishingly little interest in subjects of vital national security interest, including cybersecurity, domestic terrorism and malicious foreign interference in U.S. affairs.
Trump officials reduced funding and eliminated key cybersecurity roles in 2017, Cyber Scoop reported.
3. Taylor Characterized the Trump Administration’s Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Its Biggest Failure
Taylor said that the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, under which around 170,000 people have died in the United States so far according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was the “ultimate example” of poor leadership.
He claimed DHS had planned for years how to manage such a pandemic, but the plans went to waste:
The president’s bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic is the ultimate example. In his cavalier disregard for the seriousness of the threat, Trump failed to make effective use of the federal crisis response system painstakingly built after 9/11. Years of DHS planning for a pandemic threat have been largely wasted. Meanwhile, more than 165,000 Americans have died.
4. Taylor Also Released a Republican Voters Against Trump Video on Monday
NEW: Testimonial ad from Trump's Former DHS Chief of Staff @MilesTaylorUSA, declaring his support for Joe Biden and describing Trump's presidency as "terrifying" and "actively doing damage to our security."
— Republican Voters Against Trump (@RVAT2020) August 17, 2020
Also on Monday, Taylor released a video under the group Republican Voters Against Trump in which he levied even more charges against Trump.
Taylor says in the video that what he and other DHS officials saw during briefings with Trump was “terrifying,” and that Trump tried to “exploit” DHS for his own political purposes. During the California wildfires, Taylor says, Trump tried to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cut off individual assistance to the state because he didn’t have political support there.
He also warns that people still inside the administration have warned him, “Just wait until the second term,” when Trump will feel he has more leeway to do what he wants with federal agencies.
“Given what I’ve experienced, I have to support Joe Biden for president,” Taylor said, adding that he is not a Democrat and disagrees with Biden on many issues. “I’m confident Joe Biden will protect the country and that he won’t make the same mistakes as this president.”
5. Taylor Is the Latest of Several Former Administration Officials Who Have Spoken out Against Trump & His Policies
Taylor is far from the first former Trump administration official to speak out on what they experienced during their tenure and implore voters to reject Trump.
He joins former White House Communications Director Omarosa Manigault Newman, former Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Defense Secretary James Mattis in leaving the administration, then issuing scathing statements against Trump’s leadership.
Most recently, former National Security Adviser John Bolton drew Trump’s ire after leaving the administration and penning a book highly critical of the president. Bolton, in the book, alleged that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine unless the government conducted an investigation into Biden, his political opponent — the very allegation that resulted in Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives.
Heavy reached out to the White House for comment on Taylor’s allegations but had not heard back as of Monday afternoon. Trump did tweet about Taylor on the morning of Tuesday, August 18, though.
Many thousands of people work for our government. With that said, a former DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE named Miles Taylor, who I do not know (never heard of him), said he left & is on the open arms Fake News circuit. Said to be a real “stiff”. They will take anyone against us!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2020
Trump referred to Taylor as a “former disgruntled employee” and a “stiff,” who he had never heard of.
Taylor “is on the open arms Fake News circuit,” Trump said. “Said to be a real ‘stiff.’ They will take anyone against us!”