Who is Stephen Miller, the 31-year-old senior adviser who helped craft Donald Trump's speech to Congress?

Harriet Alexander
Stephen Miller, Donald Trump's senior adviser - AP

Stephen Miller’s remarkably rapid rise to become one of the most influential figures in the White House begun, perhaps surprisingly, in liberal Santa Monica.

The California native, who is believed to have helped craft Donald Trump's first speech to Congress and the controversial travel ban, crystalised his ideology while at high school. 

He took to ringing his local radio stations to rail against multiculturalism and the usage of Spanish-language announcements, and wrote for his high school newspaper a column entitled “A Time to Kill”, urging violent response to radical Islamists.

“We have all heard about how peaceful and benign the Islamic religion is, but no matter how many times you say that, it cannot change the fact that millions of radical Muslims would celebrate your death for the simple reason that you are Christian, Jewish or American,” Mr Miller wrote.

Ari Rosmarin, a civil rights lawyer who edited the student newspaper at time, told The Washington Post that Mr Miller was especially critical of a Mexican-American student group.

“I think he’s got a very sharp understanding of what words and issues will poke and provoke progressives, because he came up around it and really cut his teeth picking these fights that had low stakes but high offense,” he said.

“He found a really unique role to play that was deeply attractive to national conservatives.

Stephen Miller Credit: REX

“He was like a lonely warrior behind enemy lines.”

Mr Miller went on to study politics at Duke University, where he further sharpened his views – chairing debates, writing for student papers, and cultivating a reputation as someone unafraid to shun what he saw as “political correctness”.

He wrote a biweekly column for the student paper, tackling such issues as the pay gap for women – arguing that laws requiring men and women to be paid equally would hurt businesses, and that the pay gap largely resulted from women taking time off for childbirth, being less willing to ask for raises and being less likely to take part in hazardous work.

In 2005 he wrote about his dream for the end of racism, stating: “No one claims that racism is extinct — but it is endangered. And if we are to entirely extract this venom of prejudice from the United States, I proclaim Americanism to be the key.” 

Mr Miller acquired nationwide recognition for his strident defence of three white lacrosse players who were falsely accused of rape.

“This travesty has been allowed to continue because we live in a nation paralysed by racial paranoia,” he wrote in November 2006.

Mr Miller was credited with writing much of Mr Trump's inaugural address along with Steve Bannon, seen on the right Credit: AP

His views caught the attention of white supremacist Richard Spencer – a Duke graduate and the man who organised the “Heil Trump” gathering in Washington DC. Mr Spencer said he became friendly with Mr Miller through the Duke Conservative Union in the autumn of 2006, and last year told the Daily Beast that he was a “mentor” to Mr Miller - which Mr Miller has angrily denied.

“I condemn him. I condemn his views. I have no relationship with him. He was not my friend,” said Mr Miller.

Mr Miller says that his views have “matured” since his student days.

On leaving university, he went to work first for Tea Party founder Michele Bachmann and then Jeff Sessions, the Alabama senator who Mr Trump has made attorney general.

In his seven years with Mr Sessions, Mr Miller was a key proponent of the Alabama senator’s hardline immigration plans – railing about the evils of “foreign labour” and promoting news articles attacking proponents of compromise, like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

In January 2016, after Mr Sessions became one of the first to endorse Mr Trump, the Californian joined Mr Trump’s campaign. He served as a warm up act at rallies, and took on a role as a speech writer and policy director.

Working with Steve Bannon, the right wing flamethrower behind the Breitbart website, he crafted Mr Trump’s platform and shaped his message.

In brief | Stephen Miller

After the election, Mr Trump made him a senior policy adviser.

In his inauguration speech, Mr Trump sparked debate when he announced that he saw patriotism as a cure for racism. The idea was first espoused by Mr Miller, in his 2005 article.

Miller and Bannon, who reportedly shaped the "dark"  inauguration speech, are also understood to have been responsible for the far more optimistic address that Mr Trump delivered to Congress five weeks later. 

The two were still working on the speech late on Monday, aides told the New York Times.

“The president’s ideas have to be fleshed out into a programme of action,” Bloomberg quoted Bannon as saying. “Stephen is the driving force of implementing the ideas of President Trump.”

“I understand his vision, his ideas,” Miller told the news agency. “I can be an implementer.”