- CNN host Jake Tapper and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller duked it out during an interview about the contents of Michael Wolff’s new book about President Donald Trump.
- Miller attempted to dismiss former chief strategist Steve Bannon’s criticism of the Trump White House by downplaying the former political adviser’s role in the administration.
CNN host Jake Tapper clashed with senior policy adviser Stephen Miller over claims in “Fire & Fury: Inside The Trump White House,” Michael Wolff’s explosive new tell-all about President Donald Trump’s campaign, presidential transition, and administration.
In an interview on “State of the Union” on Sunday, Tapper pressed Miller to respond to some of the highest-profile claims, including Bannon’s assertion that a 2016 meeting between the Trump campaign and a Kremlin-linked lawyer was “unpatriotic” and “treasonous.”
Miller dismissed both Bannon and Wolff’s credibility, saying the author was a “garbage author of a garbage book,” and that claims in the book were “a pile of trash.” He repeatedly described Bannon’s comments in the book as “grotesque,” saying his role in the White House was “greatly exaggerated.”
“Is it really the position of the Trump White House that Steve Bannon had nothing to do with the presidency?” Tapper said after listing priorities that Bannon pushed during his time in the administration. “Can you acknowledge that he was a key player?”
“His role has been greatly exaggerated, whereas the president hasn’t gotten the due that he deserves for the movement that he put together to tap into the kinds of people whose life concerns don’t get a lot of attention on CNN,” Miller replied.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 7, 2018
Miller then repeatedly attempted to pivot to criticism of CNN, a favourite Trump target. Miller said Tapper was being “condescending” and described CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration as “hysterical” and “toxic” when Tapper asked about whether Trump was mentally fit to serve in the White House.
“Steven, I’m trying to get to the issue of the president’s fitness,” Tapper said.
“I’m getting to the issue of your fitness,” Miller replied. “The president’s tweets absolutely reaffirm the plain spoken truth: self made billionaire who revolutionised reality TV, and tapped into something magical that’s happening in the heart of this country.”
“The president has an approval rating in the 30s, I don’t know what’s magical that you’re talking about,” Tapper responded.
After Miller repeatedly described Trump as a “political genius” and lamented what he said was unfair treatment during the interview, Tapper said there was “one viewer you care about right now,” and abruptly ended the interview.
“I think I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time. Thank you, Stephen,” Tapper said.
The appearance was one of Miller’s first major Sunday show television interviews since the beginning of the administration, when he made a slew of appearances defending the president’s travel ban. Though Miller’s posture during earlier interviews was seen by many critics as standoffish, his performance earned praise from the president.
Indeed, shortly after Sunday’s interview, Trump blasted Tapper and praised Miller.