President Donald Trump’s refusal to reopen the U.S. government reflects the growing influence of his acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and senior adviser Stephen Miller, hard-right conservatives who are closer to the President thanks to turnover within the White House, Bloomberg analyzes.
Mulvaney is an avowed skeptic of the government’s size who’s preached what he regards as the benefits of shutdowns both as the President’s budget chief and as a Tea Party Republican congressman. And the anti-immigrant Miller is known for helping scuttle a previous immigration deal between the President and congressional Democrats as well as a bipartisan effort during the Obama administration.
Mulvaney and Miller have an advantage within the White House, as they are telling a president who prizes confrontation and who often disparages undocumented immigrants largely what he wants to hear. More moderate voices, including Vice President Mike Pence and senior adviser Jared Kushner, do not appear to enjoy as much influence.
“He’s surrounded by the worst possible voices to get out of this mess, and he himself isn’t particularly inclined to negotiate. Ideologically they will push the president to hold out, and politically they offer nothing as a kind of skilled leader who could go to Capitol Hill and strike a deal,” Princeton University political historian Julian Zelizer said in an interview.
Talks ground to a halt last week after Trump stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders and renewed threats to bypass Congress by declaring a national emergency to fund construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The shutdown entered a record 24th day Monday, after some 800,000 federal workers missed their first paychecks last week.
According to Bloomberg, both Mulvaney and Miller have benefited from a post-election purge of White House aides who were seen as restraining influences on the President, including former Chief of Staff John Kelly. He said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times last month that his tenure should be judged by the things he convinced Trump not to do, Bloomberg added.