WASHINGTON — Elaine C. Duke, then President Donald Trump’s acting secretary of homeland security, arrived at the Roosevelt Room, down the hall from the Oval Office, on a steamy August afternoon in 2017 expecting a discussion about Trump’s pledge to terminate DACA, the Obama-era protections for young immigrants. Instead, she said, it was “an ambush.”
“The room was stacked,” she recalled. Stephen Miller, the architect of the president’s assault on immigration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other White House officials demanded that she sign a memo ending the program, which they had already concluded was illegal. She did not disagree, but she chafed at being cut out of the real decision-making.
“President Trump believes that he can’t trust,” Duke, now a consultant, said in a wide-ranging interview about the 14 months she spent working for him and the consequences of the president’s suspicion of what he calls the “deep state”