The White House sent a letter to House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman Elijah Cummings late on Wednesday, informing him that they were denying his request that senior adviser Stephen Miller testify before the committee.
Cummings had requested that Miller testify on the Trump administration’s immigration policies on May 1 “because it appears that you are one of the primary moving forces behind some of the most significant — and in my view, troubling — immigration policies coming out of the Trump White House.”
In denying the chairman’s request, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in the letter that “We are pleased that the Committee is interested in obtaining information regarding border security and much needed improvements to our immigration system.”
He added that other agency leaders, as well as cabinet secretaries, could be allowed to testify.
The Washington Post writes that Democrats’ biggest concern is that Miller has a much larger influence over the White House’s policies than any other staffer. He was responsible for a number of controversial policies on immigration, including a proposal to send undocumented migrants to “sanctuary cities” under the jurisdiction of President Donald Trump’s political opponents.
Miller was also behind the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which lead to migrant children being separated from their parents after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
The senior advisor is also believed to be responsible for the Department of Homeland Security shake-up, aimed at clearing the path for vacancies to be filled by people who would be more willing to enforce Trump’s hard-line policies.
But not being a Senate-confirmed Cabinet secretary Miller is not accountable to Congress as heads of federal agencies are. Also, White House staff do not traditionally testify before Congress.