Sims notes that the number of Christian refugees coming to the United States fell under the Trump administration. At one point, he took his concerns to White House adviser Stephen Miller, who reportedly said, “I would be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil.”
The United States took in 16,015 Christian refugees in 2018 and 15,659 in 2017, compared to 38,919 in 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, according to the U.S. State Department. Reports of those numbers vary depending on which refugees are counted, what countries they came from, and whether comparing fiscal or calendar years. But most agree the amount of Christian refugees admitted to the United States dropped by more than 50 percent since Trump took office. (Sims said the drop was 40 percent. WORLD looked at a wide group of refugees, including Catholics and Protestants, from around the world by calendar year and calculated a decrease of 59 percent.)
In light of that drop, Sims criticizes Trump’s evangelical advisory board, comprised of well-known Christian leaders such as Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. He “never heard any of the faith leaders who actually had access” to the Oval Office bring up the plight of persecuted Christians to the president. “What is the point of having moral authority, as all these advisers claimed to, if you don’t stand up for morality?” Sims asked in the book.
Johnnie Moore, a spokesman for the evangelical advisory board, pushed back on the criticism, saying there were many meetings on the topic of refugees, “and I have [been] in several of them and I was privy to others.” He also told me that the administration prioritized deploying resources to Christians in places like Iraq and Syria because “most refugees don’t want to immigrate unless they have to.” That is why, Moore said, the administration has deployed $300 million in aid to persecuted communities in Iraq. Sims’ publisher said the author was not available to comment on Moore’s statements for this report.
A number of anonymous White House officials have talked to Politico and other media outlets and have either denied Sims’ credibility or confirmed that he had a “close relationship” with the president, but most have not spoken on the record. The White House has not yet challenged specific details in the book, but the Trump reelection campaign is considering bringing legal action against Sims for violating a nondisclosure agreement he signed, campaign COO Michael Glassner tweeted.
Sims writes that he left the White House job in May 2018 when tensions between him and then–chief of staff John Kelly peaked over meeting attendance and protocols. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the Alabama Daily News website after Sims’ resignation that he was a “valuable member of President Trump’s team on the campaign and for 15 months in the White House. I worked with him on both and he is talented, smart, and worked hard for the President. We hated to see him resign from the White House, but I know he will continue to be a loyal supporter for the President.”
Trump, meanwhile, dismissed the book entirely. In a tweet, he called Sims a “low level staffer that I barely knew,” who wrote “yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction.”
Sims responded by tweeting photos of him walking with the president, sitting in meetings with top White House officials in the Oval Office and elsewhere, and of an autographed copy of a New York Times front page with a story about the Republican Party’s 2017 tax act that reads, “Cliff, great job! Thanks,” and signed by Trump.