In September 2018, an anonymous official wrote in the New York Times that he was “part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.” The official said that he and other conscientious figures close to the president were “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” The anonymous official went on to write a book that, as I understand it, made the same vague claim, except at book length.
On Wednesday, the anonymous official revealed himself. He is Miles Taylor, who worked in the Department of Homeland Security and has recently criticized Trump in other contexts using his real name.
Who is this secret voice of conscience inside the Trump administration? According to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News, Taylor was working as a deputy chief of staff for DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in the spring of 2018, the period during which the department began systematically separating undocumented children from their parents at the border by charging the parents with crimes. Nielsen, in a May 2018 Senate hearing that Taylor helped her prepare for, claimed that taking young children from their parents was not the ultimate goal of Trump’s decision to prosecute all border crossings criminally. But that message was contradicted by other administration figures at the time and has since been proved false by a memo that shows the policy was created because it was believed that taking migrants’ children from them would deter other migrants from crossing the border. Another BuzzFeed document shows Taylor telling Nielsen in May that he had sent her talking points about “protecting children”; a third shows her asking him and two others for help with public messaging on June 18 of the same year, when the public backlash against family separation was at its peak.
After all this, Taylor accepted a February 2019 promotion to be Nielsen’s chief of staff. When he left government after Nielsen’s resignation in April of that year, Google hired him as its “head of national security policy engagement,” which sounds very important. The company told its other employees that he was “not involved in the family separation policy,” a claim that appears to be false except perhaps in the limited sense that Taylor may have only been involved in defending the policy, not creating it. (He has been on leave from Google since August.) In an August 2020 interview, Taylor—who, again, accepted a promotion to work with the chief administrator of the family separation policy after it had become an international scandal, and who did not quit his job at DHS until she resigned—claimed that Trump’s attitude toward migrants was “one of the reasons” he left the administration. “People like me should have done more,” he told Noticias Telemundo. “Looking back, I wish I had laid my body on the train tracks and said, ‘We cannot implement this no matter what you guys tell us about resources.’ ”
In 2019, the New York Times reported that the youngest child taken from his parents by DHS during the previous year was 4 months old.
Think You Know More About the Trump White House Than Mike Pesca? Find Out With a Special News Quiz.
From now until Election Day, we’re offering a series of quizzes to test your political knowledge. Questions are multiple-choice, and time is of the essence: answer more quickly for more points. Check out all of our Slate News Quizzes here.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.