- After Vice President Mike Pence announced he was hiring Katie Waldman as his new press secretary, news of Waldman’s reported relationship with controversial White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller broke.
- On November 4, a widely circulated picture of an Instagram post showed that the couple was engaged.
- Waldman will begin the role on October 1. Previously, she’s worked with Republican lawmakers and defended President Donald Trump’s immigration policies as Department of Homeland Security press secretary.
- Here’s what we know about Pence’s newly minted press secretary.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Vice President Mike Pence announced in September that his press secretary would be Katie Waldman, a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump who previously had stints with Republican lawmakers and the Department of Homeland Security.
The news of the hire made even more headlines after Washington Post reporter Nick Miroff tweeted alongside the news that 27-year-old Waldman is dating controversial White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, who would become Waldman’s fianceé around six weeks later.
From Waldman’s past controversies, her reputation as a hard worker, and harsh comments on immigration, see what we know about Pence’s newly minted press secretary.
Waldman has a controversial past that began when she was still a student, similar to Miller.
In 2012, Waldman was at the centre of a University of Florida student government scandal when she and another student were seen throwing away hundreds of copies of the school’s newspaper that endorsed a candidate from the opposing party the night before student government elections.
While Waldman didn’t ultimately face any punishment for the incident, a fellow student government member hit out at her “ethical and moral fibre.”
“Sen. Katie Waldman’s appointment to the position of allocations chairwoman is an affront to the students of UF,” Max Stein, the Assistant Minority Leader of the Students Party, wrote in the school’s newspaper. “I do not question her qualifications, passion or work ethic. I question her ethical and moral fibre.”
Miller got his start as a rising star on the far-right after making waves in high school student government through incidents including his argument that students shouldn’t have to pick up their own trash because there are “plenty of janitors who are paid to do it” for them and that “Osama Bin Laden would feel very welcome at Santa Monica High School” because of the student body’s anti-war attitude after 9/11.
She got her start as a star press secretary in the Senate.
According to her LinkedIn page, Waldman first worked as a press assistant at the National Republican Senatorial Committee before serving Republican Sen. Steve Daines as his first press secretary after he won election to the Senate in 2014.
Daines told NBC News that Waldman “has a very strong personality” and an “incredible work ethic.”
In 2014, former Buzzfeed writer Benny Johnson followed Waldman as she was assigned to deliver a birthday cake to Democratic Sen. Mark Begich that also served as a tongue-in-cheek reminder that he had voted with then-President Barack Obama 97% of the time.
She has a history of making harsh comments about migrants.
Waldman previously served as deputy press secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, where she defended the administration’s policy of family separations and made several controversial and unproven claims about immigrants.
Waldman said in a CNN interview in January 2019 that asylum seekers are a “violent mob of migrants” that were threatening agents and the border.
She previously told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade in October 2018 that the migrant caravan travelling to the southern border was a media stunt.
“This caravan is being put together by NGOs and others mainly for media attention,” Waldman said. “I mean as I just said we’re seeing caravan size every day at the border. You know we’ve heard reports of these folks getting on buses and then getting off and walking for the cameras. You know they are getting a ton of media attention.”
An anonymous former DHS official told NBC News that Waldman’s work “impressed a lot of people in the administration” and another official told the outlet that “she’s pro-Trump and that checks all the boxes.”
Waldman and Miller provoked reactions when it was reported that they were dating.
Several Twitter users had dramatic reactions when Washington Post reporter Nick Miroff tweeted the news.
Several pointed to Miller’s close ties to the “zero-tolerance” policy enforced by President Donald Trump’s administration that separated immigrant children from their families at the southern border.
I can't even fathom someone actually dating the man. Racism and fascism in one really creepy package, who in their right mind would pick that off the grocery store shelf? The carton of very dangerously outdated milk would be more of a charmer.
"Dating Stephen Miller"
— aimee (@aimeemb24) September 19, 2019
Dating Stephen Miller? Someone is actually having sex with him? pic.twitter.com/LgJmTudJkJ
— Snooks (@ivy_nola) September 19, 2019
Miller is one of the few remaining staffers from Trump’s 2016 campaign who has also written some of the president’s biggest speeches, including Trump’s first State of the Union address. He was also identified in June 2018 as the biggest champion of the “zero-tolerance” policy and pushed it into action despite doubts by other members of the administration.
Two days after the announcement, Waldman and Miller made an appearance together at the Trumps’ second state dinner, which was held in the Rose Garden in honour of Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny.
On November 4, it was reported that the couple was engaged after Waldman posted an Instagram that was screenshotted and widely circulated.
Just over six weeks after their first public appearance together, news of the engagement provoked strong reactions from Washington insiders once the photo was posted on Twitter, but no further details about the couple’s nuptials were immediately available.
Waldman will surely be a key asset as Pence heads into an election year.
Immigration has been a major talking point for candidates on both sides of the aisle leading up to the campaign, and Waldman’s track record of defending Trump’s harsh policies could come in handy as the race heats up.
Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, told NBC that Waldman “has the mettle to handle intense environments.”
NBC News reported Waldman will begin the role on October 1.