This month we’ve been waiting to see which of Donald Trump’s current White House advisers would end up being the first to get tapped on the shoulder by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The identity of that adviser would end up offering clues about Mueller’s strategy in general, and perhaps about that adviser’s role in particular. Now it turns out Mueller already interviewed one of Trump’s current top people, and – surprise – it’s Stephen Miller. This is somewhat stunning, and it tells us a lot.
The media was under the widespread belief that Hope Hicks would be the first of Trump’s current senior advisers to speak with Robert Mueller, after she returns from Trump’s current Asia trip. Instead, CNN is now reporting that Mueller has already met with Stephen Miller (link) – and as Miller is also currently on that Asia trip, it means Mueller met with Miller at least a week ago. This opens up a Pandora’s box of possibilities.
For one thing it means that, as per usual, Mueller is way ahead of the media and the public. It also raises the question of whether Donald Trump even knew about it at the time. When Mueller met with two former Trump White House advisers, Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer, it became public immediately. But the biggest question here is why Mueller chose to start so early with Miller of all people. Two distinct possibilities come to mind.
One would be that Robert Mueller has concluded, for evidentiary reasons known only to him, that Stephen Miller is more likely to be useful than various other current Trump senior advisers. After all, Miller helped draft Trump’s abandoned first letter firing James Comey. Another would be that Miller doesn’t want anything to do with the conspiracy to obstruct justice charges that are hanging over the heads of Trump’s entire senior staff, and he signaled that he wants to cut a deal. Take your pick – but it’s clear that Mueller knows something about Miller and Trump that we don’t.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report