Fox News’ Chris Wallace hammered top White House adviser Stephen Miller on Sunday after he claimed President Donald Trump made “clear” that he didn’t condone his supporters’ racist “send her back” chants at his rally in North Carolina last week.
“The president was clear that he disagreed with that,” Miller, who has helped craft some of Trump’s most controversial immigration policies including the Muslim ban, told Wallace during an appearance Sunday on “Fox News Sunday.”
But Wallace interrupted to note that Trump did nothing to stop the chants during his rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Wednesday.
“Excuse me, he let it go on for 13 seconds,” Wallace said. “It was only when the chant diminished that he started talking again. ... He said nothing there or in his tweet after the rally that indicated any concern about the chant.”
Trump had been bashing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) at the rally when the crowd erupted in “send her back” chants, undoubtedly inspired by the president’s racist tirade last Sunday calling on Omar and three other Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to other countries.
Omar fled war-torn Somalia with her family when she was 8 years old and immigrated to the U.S. as a refugee four years later. The other three ― Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) ― were born in the U.S. All four are outspoken critics of the president.
The chant was widely condemned by Democrats and some Republicans. Trump later claimed he was “not happy” with his rally-goers shouting the phrase, even though he did nothing to stop it and did not denounce it at the time. He has since described the rally-goers as “incredible patriots.”
Miller on Sunday continued to defend Trump’s response to the chant, repeatedly claiming the president was “clear” about disagreeing with it, as Wallace pushed back.
“The core issue is that all the people in that audience and millions of patriotic Americans all across this country are tired of being beat up, condescended to, looked down upon, talked down to by members of Congress on the left,” Miller said.
Miller falsely claimed the group of congresswomen ― known as “the Squad” ― wanted to transform the U.S. into Venezuela. He also falsely claimed Ocasio-Cortez called the U.S. “garbage” and referred to Border Patrol agents as “Nazis.” She has described immigrant detention centers at the border as “concentration camps,” in line with the historical definition of the term.
“As an American Jew, I am profoundly outraged by the comments from Ocasio-Cortez,” Miller told Wallace. “It is a sinful comment. It minimizes the death of 6 million of my Jewish brothers and sisters. It minimizes their suffering, and it paints every patriotic law enforcement officer as a war criminal. And those are the comments we should be focusing on.”
Wallace failed to call out Miller’s willful misinterpretation of Ocasio-Cortez’s comments, but continued to grill him on Trump’s past comments such as describing some Mexicans as “rapists.”
“I’ve never called any of his tweets racist, but there’s no question that he’s stoking racial divisions,” Wallace said.
He also asked Miller whether he believed there was a “race quality” to Trump’s involvement in pushing the birther conspiracy theory, which questioned whether President Barack Obama was born in the U.S.
“They raised questions about John McCain’s circumstances of birth ―” said Miller, who also serves as Trump’s chief speechwriter.
Wallace interrupted, “No, there were never race questions about John McCain. There was a question about whether he was born in the Panama Canal or not.”
But Miller continued to stand by the president. “I fundamentally disagree with the view that if you criticize somebody and they happen to be a different color skin that that makes it a racial criticism,” he said.
“He wasn’t criticizing [Obama],” Wallace responded. “He was questioning whether he was an American.”
Trump 2020 campaign aide Mercedes Schlapp also defended Trump in the wake of the “send her back” chants during an appearance Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.”
“The president disavowed the chant. The president made it clear that he wasn’t happy with the chant,” Schlapp claimed, prompting pushback from host George Stephanopoulos, who noted that Trump didn’t speak out against it until the next day.
“You all can make that analysis,” Schlapp said. “And I’m sure you’ve all been to a Trump rally ― there’s a lot of emotion, there’s a lot going on.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated that Omar immigrated to the U.S. when she was 8 years old. In fact, she was 12 years old.