Ex-White House aide Cliff Sims struggled to 'reconcile' Christian beliefs with Trump's anti-refugee stance

  • Cliff Sims, a former White House aide with a new tell-all book, says he agreed with President Donald Trump on a lot but struggled with the president’s rhetoric on refugees.
  • In the book, Sims, a Christian with a personal connection to the refugee crisis, said he found it hard to “reconcile” his beliefs with Trump’s statements.
  • Sims quoted Stephen Miller, seen as a major influence on the Trump administration’s immigration policies, as saying he would “be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil.”

The former White House aide Cliff Sims has a new tell-all book in which he offers an intimate picture of what it was like to work alongside President Donald Trump, including descriptions of a struggle at time to work past statements and policies from the president that contradicted his personal values.

Sims, a devout Christian, placed particular emphasis on Trump’s stance toward refugees in this regard.

In 2015, Sims travelled to Jordan with his wife and members of his Alabama church to do work with Syrian refugees. That helped give him a personal connection to the Syrian refugee crisis, and he recalled being deeply uncomfortable with much of Trump’s rhetoric on the issue.


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In his book, “Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the White House,” Sims said he struggled to “reconcile” his Christian beliefs and feelings with Trump’s statements and policies toward refugees.

He described himself as “one of the few people in the West Wing with a firsthand perspective on the refugee and migration crises that would so often be the focus of an intense and often painful political, cultural, and national security debate.”

Sims said he “sometimes cringed” at Trump’s refugee rhetoric, which he said “totally lacked nuance.”


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He was particularly concerned Trump was not aware of “persecuted Christians” caught up in the refugee crisis.

Sims found the White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller’s views on the issue especially extreme. He said there was “no use” pressing the issue with Miller when it came to refugees, describing it as a “fool’s errand.”

Sims quoted Miller, seen as a major influence on the Trump administration’s immigration policies, as saying he would “be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil.”

Sims agreed with Trump on some aspects of the refugee crisis and shared concerns about the ability to vet people coming out of war zones, and he also described himself as a “hard-liner on the issue of illegal immigration.” But he still struggled with the president’s characterization of refugees.


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Trump during his presidential campaign described Syrian refugees as “one of the great Trojan horses,” implying that they posed a major terrorist threat. In late 2015 he called for barring all Muslims from entering the US, a goal some felt was behind the executive order early in Trump’s presidency that sought to restrict travel to the US from several predominantly Muslim countries.


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That travel ban has had several iterations because of legal challenges, but a modified version was upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2018. The current ban issues restrictions on travellers from Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Venezuela.


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None of the hijackers in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were from those countries, and no lethal jihadist attacks have been perpetrated on US soil by people from the countries on this list since the 9/11 attacks, according to an extensive analysis from the New America Foundation.

Refugees seeking to enter the US go through an extremely lengthy and complex vetting process that typically lasts about 18 to 24 months, a fact Trump often overlooks in calling for stricter vetting practices.

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