Blasting Trump as “one of the most unfocused and undisciplined senior executives I’ve ever encountered,” a former top deputy in the Department of Homeland Security says he came away from his service in the administration “completely convinced, based on firsthand experience, that the president was ill-equipped, and wouldn’t become equipped, to do his job effectively.”
Miles Taylor rose to become chief of staff to then-secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. In two-and-a-half years in the administration, Taylor got his hands dirty. He defended Trump’s Muslim ban as “tough” but “tailored” and continued to serve even as Homeland Security implemented Trump’s inhumane policy of family separation at the border.
Trump responded on Twitter that Taylor was a “former DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE” who “I do not know (never heard of him)”
But Taylor’s service gave him an up-close view of Trump’s performance as chief executive. In a video posted by Republican Voters Against Trump, a group founded by the neoconservative Bill Kristol, Taylor describes Trump as disinterested in briefings about actual threats to national security, including terrorism and cyber-attacks. Instead, Taylor tells America: “Trump wanted to exploit the Department of Homeland Security for his own political purposes.”
Perhaps most alarming, Taylor says that Trump was undeterred by warnings that his chosen policy objectives were illegal: “He didn’t want us to tell them it was illegal anymore,” Taylor recalls, “because he knew that there were — and these were his words — he knew that he had ‘magical authorities.'”
In the two-minute video, Taylor describes Trump not only as lawless, but as cruel and vindictive — alleging that the president sought to withhold FEMA aid to victims of wildfire in California because he was incensed that the state had voted against him, and that Trump wanted to restart the family-separation policy “to show those parents that they shouldn’t come to the border in the first place.”
In the video — posted above, with a transcript below — Taylor endorses Biden for president and sums up the Trump presidency in a single word: “Terrifying.”
I’m Miles Taylor. I served as the chief of staff of the Department of Homeland Security under the Donald Trump administration. I would go into the office, I would read my intelligence brief, and then it was my job to help the Department of Homeland Security to keep our country safe.
What we saw, week-in and week-out — and, for me, after two-and-a-half years in that administration — was terrifying. We would go in to try to talk to them about a pressing national security issue: cyber attack, terrorism threat. He wasn’t interested in those things. To him, they weren’t priorities. The president wanted to exploit the Department of Homeland Security for his own political purposes and to fuel his own agenda.
The California wildfires: On a phone call with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he told FEMA to cut off the money and to no longer give individual assistance to California. He told us to stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down from a wildfire, because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him and that, politically, it wasn’t a base for him.
The policies at the border: He wanted to restart zero-tolerance and separate families. He said he wanted to go further and have a deliberate policy of ripping children away from their parents to show those parents that they shouldn’t come to the border in the first place.
A lot of the time, the things he wanted to do not only were impossible, but in many cases illegal. He didn’t want us to tell them it was illegal anymore because he knew that there were, and these were his words — he knew that he had “magical authorities.”
He was one of the most unfocused and undisciplined senior executives I’ve ever encountered. I came away completely convinced, based on firsthand experience, that the president was ill-equipped, and wouldn’t become equipped, to do his job effectively. And what’s worse was actively doing damage to our security. People who are still serving in this administration have said to me, “Just wait until the second term. It’ll be no holds barred. It’ll be shock-and-awe. We’ll do what we want.”
Given what I’ve experienced in the administration, I have to support Joe Biden for president. And even though I’m not a Democrat, even though I disagree on key issues, I’m confident that Joe Biden will protect the country. And I’m confident he won’t make the same mistakes as this president.