Stephen Miller Spends 12 Minutes Refusing to Answer Whether Trump Met with Russians Offering Dirt

36 seconds into his 12:34 minute interview with Stephen Miller, Jake Tapper asked Miller, “Did President Trump meet with any of the so-called ‘jumos’ who were in that Trump Tower meeting?”

Miller spent the remaining 12 minutes of the meeting repeating the talking points, “grotesque work of fiction” and “political genius” over and over: Grotesque work of fiction political genius grotesque work of fiction political genius grotesque work of fiction political genius grotesque work of fiction political genius grotesque work of fiction political genius grotesque work of fiction political genius.

Tapper asked whether Trump had met the Russians again, “Can you just settle that for us?”

Miller responded, “I have no knowledge of anything to do with that meeting.” His response actually answers a different question, not whether Trump ever met with the Russians in it.

As a reminder, on April 25, 2016, 45 days before the Trump Tower meeting, George Papadopoulos told Miller “The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready []. The advantage of being in London is that these governments tend to speak a bit more openly in ‘neutral’ cities.” Two days later, the day after Papadopoulos learned the Russians had political dirt in the form of thousands of Hillary emails, Papadopoulos emailed Miller again. “Have some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.

Miller may have no knowledge of the June 9 meeting itself. But it is almost certainly the case that he knows about negotiations regarding dirt in the form of emails, because he appears to have been the first person on the campaign that Papadopoulos spoke to after learning of them.

And yet, in the 12 minutes of this interview, Miller never managed a denial that Trump had met with the Russians involved in the Trump Tower meeting.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

38 replies
  1. Bay State Librul says:

    I work for a global analytics company. Every six months, we take a 40 minute refresher course on our Code of Conduct and Ethics.
    After viewing, I said to myself, “Trump and 90% of his administrative staff would be fired for ethics violations and conflicts of interest.”
    Why did Miller obfuscate — because he is a fucking liar and has no sense of decency.
    I still think this country is in grave danger.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Decency is a dead parrot to these people; it’s for rubes.

      Miller, like Kellyanne, is protecting his Leader, selling his greatness.  For authoritarian followers, that role justifies any conduct.  Members of the CIA, the black box community in general, and foreign policy establishment have a similar code of conduct, which is quickly metastasizing into corporate America generally.

      As Robert Redford’s character asked in Three Days of the Condor, “What is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?”

  2. Domyewest says:

    I lost brain cells watching that interview. Plus, Miller is so slimy, I immediately had to take a shower.

  3. brightdark says:

    Do you have any proof that Trump did meet with them?  If Miller had straight out denied it, you and/or the other comments here would be saying he lied.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      It is difficult to prove a negative, but ever since news of the meeting broke, there’s been a  strictly defined area of doubt and uncertainty about whether the 26th floor interacted with the 25th, either on speaker or in person. It’s a bit like a balloon in a bell jar.

      The LA Times nudged the story along a tiny bit yesterday. It feels like there’s more to come.

    • Trip says:

      That’s not true. We don’t know whether or not Trump was a party to this meeting. Miller dancing around the question, however, only raises suspicions. He could have unequivocally denied that Trump took any part in it. What is so difficult about that, if it is the truth?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Especially we don’t know whether Trump met with anyone from “the meeting” shortly after “the meeting” in the same or another place.  We’re in “facility’ and “is” country here.

        It would take detailed direct examination to elicit a half-way complete answer to those questions.  Presumably, we’d start hearing 5th Amendment assertions long before we got there – the one part of the Constitution Trump would remember from his days with Roy Cohn.

    • bell says:

      i am still curious to see the law that says ‘one can’t meet with a russian’, but i haven’t seen it yet.. apparently everyone is supposed to forget that meeting with a russian does not equate with doing something illegal, but of that distinction – we must leave it aside as everyone is supposed to know that ‘meeting with a russian’ is just bad mojo plain and simple.. as for clintons emails being made available – that is russias fault too, lol.. russia is not going to get out of any of this, if they think someone else – a possible president for the usa no less – is going to be held accountable – trump or clinton!

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        apparently everyone is supposed to forget that meeting with a russian does not equate with doing something illegal

        No, according to 🛎🔚 everyone is supposed to forget all the early blanket denials about meeting with Russians, e.g.

        “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.” — Hope Hicks, November 11 2016.

        “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did. But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.” — Uday, March 2017

        “So what if we said we didn’t and have lied about it every step of the way, it isn’t illegal” is probably where we’re heading, with 🛎🔚 and company as eager water-carriers.

        • bell says:

          love the imagery!  meeting with russians is legal apparently, lol… now whether they were meeting with the ruskies to do some hanky panky – that is not legal.. we still don’t know what is what, but keep your fishing rod in the pond and maybe you will get a bite!

          • pseudonymous in nc says:

            And 🛎🔚 once again wants us to forget all the lies because 🛎🔚 doesn’t have an answer to all the lies.

            “There are no fish in this pond, if there were it’s no big deal, and many people are saying that fish don’t even exist.”

             

            • bell says:

              i have noticed some folks have to have the last word on speculation.. now, aside from your imagery, you are putting words in my mouth i never said… good one!

              • bmaz says:

                No, PINC did not. The response was perfectly appropriate for your insipid and relentless trollery. And if you want to go further in your continual quest to insert intellectual crap and trollery into these threads, let’s go. I have a particularly itchy trigger finger for your bullshit. And it is not going to maintain in the form you seem to be prone to.

                 

      • dk says:

        Being particularly Russian is incidental in this context. Any campaign’s legal staff would (well… should) immediately react to report of even an informal an non-substantive approach from any foreign national or declared agent with “get them out of here NOW, and stay away.”

        I’ve seen this happen firsthand several times on various campaigns, although none of the foreign nationals or agents in these instances was Russian. Polite but firm: “Sorry, but you have to leave. This conversation is over.” Staffers are usually warned about this explicitly, although standards are certainly not uniform across campaigns.

        The FEC published and advisory (dated June 23, 2017) here:

        https://www.fec.gov/updates/foreign-nationals/

        The Act and Commission regulations include a broad prohibition on foreign national activity in connection with elections in the United States. 52 U.S.C. § 30121 and generally, 11 CFR 110.20. In general, foreign nationals are prohibited from the following activities:

        Making any contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or making any expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement in connection with any federal, state or local election in the United States;

        Making any contribution or donation to any committee or organization of any national, state, district, or local political party (including donations to a party nonfederal account or office building account);

        Making any disbursement for an electioneering communication;

        Making any donation to a presidential inaugural committee.

        Emphasis mine. Thing of value includes information even tangentially relevant to the campaign. Even casually made remarks can be considered materially valuable, in a prosecutorial context.

        This is really one of the few absolute third rails of US campaign conduct. Manifort’s alleged (are we still at alleged on this?) presence in the meeting is particularly glaring, it’s completely unprofessional.

        The constant consecutive references to Russians can leave the impression that interactions with any other nation’s agents might be acceptable; they’re not.

      • brightdark says:

        Mueller is investigating Ivanka Trump because she exchange pleasantries with the Russian members of the meeting as they got off the elevator as she got on. Does he have any more reason than that?

    • bmaz says:

      Just so we are crystal clear, “Brightdark” is a troll that used to pop in under the consistent name of “Tom Allen”, going back to 2012. Apparently now he/she has taken up a sock puppet to ask stupid trolley questions. Don’t fall for this stupid shit.

      And, but of course, resident troll of late “Bell” couldn’t help but chime in with his own idiocy as to whether it is criminal to talk to a Russian. Of course not you troll, but it can be if it is done so for an improper purpose under campaign finance law, among other things. But you would know that, and not ask trolley questions if you actually cared or actually read here as opposed to simply flinging antagonistic bullshit. Instead here you are again, flinging bullshit.

      • bell says:

        keep on fishing, as everyone loves a fishing expedition.. meanwhile – still nothing.. flynn talked with russia to look after israel and shit like that… if someone were to ask me if politicians or media types were capable of playing fast and loose with the truth, i would be the first to acknowledge it.. why even lawyers can do this too!

          • Ding Dong says:

            Banning these jerkoffs for serial bad-faith trolling would be perfectly justified and reasonable, but I have no idea how you imagine it helps the conversation to repeatedly exchange verbal abuse with them while throwing around apparently hollow threats of consequences.

            • bmaz says:

              Thanks for your continued support. And what would you have us do? And what will you do to improve “the conversation” and make this a more intellectual and reasonable comment place?

              • Ding Dong says:

                Strange. I’d have sworn I left a response, but it seems to have vanished after an hour or so. It certainly seemed less disruptive than many of the things that have not been moderated away, so it must be something else.

                Peculiar  priorities, I  guess?

                  • Ding Dong says:

                    Yeah, kinda,  but it really only speaks to your… quirks. I am a huge fan of emptywheel, but you are not a big part of the appeal.

                    Seriously, what must be wrong in your life, that you publish troll droppings so that you can rage impotently against them, while disappearing comments pointing out that you could actually do  something about them?

                    • bmaz says:

                      You are right. I do kind of regret letting your bunk hit the internet. I will take that as an admission you have nothing useful to add. By the way, is “Ding Dong” related to “Bing Bell”?

                    • Ding Dong says:

                      You have a metastasizing troll infestation, which probably ramped up around 2016 election season (I haven’t kept records, and a lot of things got worse around that time, so it’s possible I’m interpolating erroneously). The trolls are rapidly degrading this space from one I used to enjoy, and they’re mostly not even good trolls. (They’re textbook trolls, unimaginative, pushing obvious buttons, and their motivations are not even slightly hidden, and yet you not only keep them around, you engage them, but in an ineffective blustery manner that surely encourages any of them who are here for lulz rather than a paycheck.)

                      I am not the troll problem. To the extent that I am a troll at all, it is by engaging in a (probably futile) conversation OT of the main post, at your express invitation (at least, after my first “this isn’t helping” post). And yet you clearly get more smug satisfaction from surreptitiously disappearing my comments than you do from moderating actual propaganda trolls.

                      You sit on your porch yelling “Knock that off, you damn kids, or I’ll do something about it!” at a gang of ruffians gleefully micturating all over your lawn, your guests and your own person. But when a (hitherto undisruptive) guest says “You know, there’s a button on your desk that would actually eject them from your property,” that’s the person you eject. Because apparently you’d rather rage than do something to remove the need to rage.

                      (“Bing Bell” means nothing to me. I chose “Ding Dong” this time around because the thing that motivated me to chime in, so to speak, was the propaganda t(r)olling of one “bell”. Ding Dong is a representation of the sound made by a bell; it’s also a childish expression for a penis, and a slang term for an idiot, inter alia. Since my immediate goal was to express my disapproval of a person called “bell” who I thought to be some combination of a dick and an idiot, it seemed adequate at the time. Since I am operating in what I think to be good faith, and not seeking to avoid attribution of my words, I have not changed it, even though it is obviously less aappropriate going forward.

                      Also, you can take it however you like, or you could just ask. Here is my actual admission that I have nothing to add: When the conversation turns to antitrust law, or functional programming languages, or a few niche recreational interests, I may have a few things to say that go beyond the average expertise of the honest participants here, and I will be happy to contribute! In general, I freely admit that, on the topics that Marcy covers, I feel that I have little useful to add, and I will continue to be a quiet listener.)

        • GKJames says:

          Claims of a “fishing expedition” and “still nothing” too conveniently slide past the salient fact that Flynn and Papadopoulos have copped pleas to lying to the Feds about their meetings with Russians. The reasonable person (and potential juror) can be expected to wonder: if it’s not illegal per se to meet with Russians, why are people lying about doing so (or, in Miller’s case, unable to state clearly that someone didn’t meet with them)?

    • Rapier says:

      RE:” If Miller had straight out denied it, you and/or the other comments here would be saying he lied.”

      People would say bad things about him if he told the truth, if the truth was no meeting? Well boohoo.  Poor innocent little lambs.   Make it stop mommy.

  4. Rugger9 says:

    If the Kaiser did meet with them on the 9th, he’s pretty close to finished. Then again, this is a WH that still gives Jared a TS/SCI clearance even though he “forgot” to mention about a hundred foreign contacts on his SF-86.

    What did Pence know of this? Probably not much at the time of the June 9, 2016 meeting, but as part of the transition he would have been expected to know about this to field the questions to follow. The Feebs knew about it, that’s why Sally Yates tried to intervene and I would expect Pence would have been notified then at the latest.

  5. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Also, this was predicted as an “audience of one” situation, and both Tapper and Miller knew it. That’s sort of grotesque.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Miller seems to answer a narrower question: did he know what was planned or actually talked about at the meeting? It doesn’t seem to answer the question of did he know who was expected to be or was actually at the meeting.

    As for the broken record about the Don being a political genius, it’s a nauseating, obviously untrue statement, the kind that Trump repeats to himself so often, he believes it’s true because it’s all he hears. Besides, if he were a genius, what the fuck was he doing employing Miller or Papadopoulos? Why is his staff’s turnover higher than Wal-Mart’s?

    Perhaps Jake should have asked why Trump’s team was so obsessed with developing intimate relations with a foreign power widely regarded as an American nemesis. That seems to be the elephant in the room the MSM is ignoring.

    Jake might have asked more about what Miller knows and did rather than the Don. It would be harder to respond with the genius trope; not even Miller could possibly think he’s a genius. Jake could also have reminded Miller that executive privilege didn’t apply until the Don took the oath of office. And contractual NDAs probably wouldn’t apply to things affecting public policy or the subjects of criminal investigation.

    And can someone tell me whether Jake has a demeanor other than his snarky half-smile? His conversations with earlier guests were so banal he could put the sleeping pill industry out of business.

  7. greengiant says:

    Something terribly wrong about all this. Stephen Miller has shown no compunction, no hesitation to lie directly on TV in the past. I have to go with this is a conscious effort to effect the most distractive, disruptive narrative possible with his non denial non denial act. Seems like Wolff’s book and this are Trump’s fixes for worst #Fakenews awards.

    • Rugger9 says:

      I must disagree, almost every presser he held had at least a few lies about the circumstances and/or the effects of the policies, etc. he was discussing.

      I will agree that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what people think as long as he is in charge.  It will be interesting to see how well he does when the cell door clangs behind him (he’s a star player in the “June 9 meeting explanation documentation” on Air Force 1.  He was apparently escorted out by security when he refused to leave Jake’s show after being asked to go away.

      https://www.rawstory.com/2018/01/stephen-miller-was-escorted-out-of-cnn-by-security-when-he-refused-to-leave-after-disastrous-interview/

    • Trip says:

      This entire administrations’ tactics have been to repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat and repeat talking points, blow dogwhistles and promote tropes ad nauseam (which are in themselves often lies, but hallmarks of propaganda). They try to never answer questions if they can get away with it* (* see Spicer or Huckabee-Sanders for continued confirmation). Steamrolling over journalists or interviewers with this ‘messaging’ is a longstanding pattern. See also Sessions, Nunes, Grassley and Graham revisiting Clinton and ignoring or diverting attention from the real questions the populace has and the original focus of the investigation.

  8. bmaz says:

    Dear “Ding Dong” at 12:12 stated blog time.

    Thank you for your response. It was thoughtful and fairly measured, and that is appreciated. And, yes, I know the efforts to police trollery here may well be flailing at windmills. But this is still one of the most intelligent and useful comment sections on the internet. I would like it to stay that way. You can dismiss it as “raging from my porch” all you want, but I have well over a decade of time and love involved in this effort, so, yes, I do care. What was your stated handle here before “Ding Dong”?

Comments are closed.