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Cliff Sims struggled to ‘reconcile’ Christian beliefs with Trump’s anti-refugee stance



Former White House aide Cliff Sims in a new tell-all book offers an intimate picture of what it was like to work alongside President Donald Trump, which includes insights on how he struggled to work past statements and policies from the president that contradicted his personal values.

Sims, a devout Christian, placed particular emphasis on Trump’s stance toward refugees in this regard.

In 2015, Sims traveled to Jordan with his wife and members of his Alabama church to do work with Syrian refugees. He had a personal connection to the Syrian refugee crisis, and was deeply uncomfortable with much of Trump’s rhetoric on the issue.

Read more: Kellyanne Conway bad-mouthed president to same outlets he calls ‘fake news,’ ex-Trump aide says in new book

Sims in his book, “Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the White House,” said he struggled to “reconcile” his Christian beliefs and feelings with Trump’s statements and policies toward refugees.

He described himself as “one of the few people in the West Wing with a firsthand perspective on the refugee and migration crises that would so often be the focus of an intense and often painful political, cultural, and national security debate.”

Sims said he “sometimes cringed” at Trump’s rhetoric on refugees, stating it “totally lacked nuance.”

Read more: Stephen Miller said he ‘would be happy if not a single refugee’ came to the US, according to ex-Trump aide

He was particularly concerned Trump was not aware of “persecuted Christians” caught up in the refugee crisis.

Sims found White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller’s views on the issue especially extreme. He said there was “no use” pressing the issue with Miller when it came to refugees, describing it as a “fool’s errand.”

Miller said he would “be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil,” according to Sims.

Cliff Sims, far left, Director of White House Message Strategy, stands with Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to President Donald Trump, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, as they listen to President Donald Trump welcome the 2016 NCAA Football National Champions Clemson University Tigers, Monday, June 12, 2017, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Sims agreed with Trump to a certain extent on the refugee crisis and shared concerns about the ability to vet people coming out of war zones, and also described himself as a “hard-liner on the issue of illegal immigration.” But he still struggled with the president’s characterization of refugees.

Read more: Bannon was ‘thrilled’ with Trump’s Charlottesville response as staff panicked, ex-Trump aide Cliff Sims says in new book

Trump during his presidential campaign described Syrian refugees as “one of the great Trojan horses,” implying that they posed a major terror threat. He also called for banning all Muslims from entering the US in late 2015, which eventually morphed into a executive order early in Trump’s presidency that primarily targeted predominantly Muslim countries.

Read more: Here’s what’s in Trump’s controversial travel ban that the Supreme Court upheld

Trump’s travel ban has had several iterations due to legal challenges, but a modified version was upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2018. The current ban issues restrictions on travelers from Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Venezuela.

Read more: Trump involved in every tweet on personal account and fires them off ‘at all hours,’ ex-White House aide says in new book

None of the 9/11 hijackers were from any of these countries and no lethal jihadist attacks have been perpetrated on US soil by people from the countries on this list since the 9/11 attacks, according to an extensive analysis from the New America Foundation.

Refugees coming to the US go through an extremely lengthy and complex vetting process that typically lasts around 18 to 24 months, a fact that is often lost in Trump’s efforts to demonize refugees.

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