Miller has been an influential adviser and is at this point one of the longest-serving White House aides, outlasting several rounds of infighting and avoiding getting on Trump’s bad side—avoiding the pitfalls into which others have fallen. But Miller’s support for the policy did not prevent Trump from bowing to pressure and signing an executive order he said would end child separations after a sustained public backlash.

“Stephen Miller has power because he reflects Trump’s views,” said a former White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Same thing with Peter Navarro,” Trump’s top trade adviser. But regardless of whether what Trump does in the end matches up with what his advisers want, Trump is “willing to listen,” the former White House official said.

“People want to convince themselves they’re to blame for Trump,” the former official said of ideological advisers like Miller or Navarro, or former chief strategist Steve Bannon before them. “They want to convince themselves Trump has no views at all but it’s not true.” Trump, this person said, “does have firm beliefs on things like trade and immigration,” but it “comes from a more emotive place than a philosophical place.”