By Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff // nbcnews.com // Aug. 20, 2020
WASHINGTON — In early May 2018, after weeks of phone calls and private meetings, 11 of the president’s most senior advisers were called to the White House Situation Room where they were asked, by a show of hands vote, to decide the fate of thousands of migrant parents and their children, say two officials who were there.
Trump’s senior adviser Stephen Miller led the meeting and, according to the two officials, he was angry at what he saw as defiance by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
It had been nearly a month since then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had launched the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, announcing that every immigrant who crossed the U.S. border illegally would be prosecuted, including parents with small children. But so far, U.S. border agents had not begun separating parents from their children to put the plan into action, and Miller, the architect of the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants, was furious about the delay.
Those invited included Sessions, Nielsen, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and newly installed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to documents obtained by NBC News.