In revealing his identity, the New York Times's anonymous Trump mole turns out to be less Charles DeGaulle than Marshal Pétain
In Sept. 2018 an anonymous official declared himself, in a New York Times op-ed, to be “part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.” This unidentified person said he was but one in a hardy band that went to “great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing.” They were “choosing to put country first.”
The following year “Anonymous” published a book, A Warning, in which he had to admit that efforts from within to restrain President Donald Trump turned out to be “just a wet Band-Aid that wouldn’t hold together a gaping wound.” On Reddit, Anonmous pledged “Trump will hear from me, in my own name, before the 2020 election.”
Now we have all heard from Anonymous, and the name in question turns out to be Miles Taylor, who before leaving government in June 2019 was chief of staff in the most out-of-control agency in the entire Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security. If this is the French Resistance, one shudders to imagine the damage wreaked by Marshal Philippe Pétain and Pierre Laval.
Do you have a minute? Here are some of the things that happened during the two years that Taylor was DHS chief of staff (under Kirstjen Nielsen; Taylor quit after Nielsen got pushed out).
DHS enforced a policy of separating children at the border from their parents, while denying that was its policy.
DHS failed to keep track of these children, and still can’t find 545 of the parents it deported.
DHS housed detained immigrants in unconscionable squalor.
DHS professed ignorance that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump.
DHS instituted a “remain in Mexico” policy for immigrants seeking asylum in the United States.
DHS denied asylum to those immigrants who made it across the U.S. border unless they did so at an official port of entry.
DHS proposed a “public charge” regulation denying green cards to immigrants deemed at risk of requiring government benefits.
DHS cancelled “Temporary Protected Status” visas for 200,000 Salvadorans who’d lived in the U.S. nearly 20 years. It also cancelled TPS for Nepalis and Hondurans, and denied TPS … to Syrians.
DHS enforced a ban intended to exclude Muslims from travelling to the U.S.
DHS tried to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program that protects people who came to the U.S. as children. (The Supreme Court blocked that.)
Gee, Miles, thanks for putting that choke chain on Stephen Miller!
DHS is the lead federal agency on immigration, or what Taylor, in A Warning, called “the hot-button issue of immigration.” On Trump’s watch, Taylor complained, the GOP’s message on immigration became “more anti-immigrant.” No shit, Sherlock! “Worried about illegal immigrants stealing U.S. jobs by the millions? You should, [Trump] says, because they’re swarming America.” Stop this demagogue at once!
But here are some words and phrases that didn’t appear in A Warning: “child separation,” “Muslim ban,” “asylum,” “public charge,” “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” Even as Taylor was denouncing the broad contours of Trump’s immigration policies, he was mostly silent on the salient particulars.
Yes, Taylor and his boss, Nielsen, stopped Trump from enacting some of his wilder ideas about immigration, like shutting down the U.S.-Mexico border entirely. But you don’t hear a lot of people these days proclaiming Nielsen a leader of the anti-Trump resistance. As Politico’s Andrew Restuccia and Daniel Lippman observed when she left government, efforts to rehabilitate her reputation were liable to be a “hard sell,” and so they proved to be. The mere fact that Taylor, now on leave from his post-government job as a lobbyist for Google, says he’ll vote for Joe Biden doesn’t separate his words from his deeds. His rehabilitation is no easier to justify than Nielsen’s.
Update, 6:55 p.m.: The phrase “child separation” may not appear in A Warning, but in the New Republic, Alex Shephard points out this passage:
Those who keep their heads down will live to regret it. Cautionary tales are plentiful. Go no further than the president’s homeland security leaders, who, in a sickening display of bad judgment, conceded to a policy that increased the number of children ripped from the arms of their parents at the US-Mexico border. It left a stain on their reputations, their department, and the country. It was a seminal moment of Trumpism gone too far and a lesson for others. Trump’s character rubs off on people who came into government to do what is right. Before long, they find themselves supporting and defending policies they never imagined they would.
This book was published just a few months after Taylor left DHS, where he was one of those “homeland security leaders.” The stain on “their reputations” is a stain on his, and his acknowledging that won’t help reunite any immigrant children with their parents.
There are some who worked for Trump who thought they could limit the harm done--but there will be many more who were just opportunists who are now looking for elegant ways to make an exit. You will hear stuff like this from them..