President Trump Appoints New Head of DHS

Pauline Gross
October 14, 2017

President Donald Trump officially announced Thursday the nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen, John Kelly's former principal deputy chief of staff, to be the new nominee for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

The announcement was expected to be made as soon as later in the day, Xinhua reported on Wednesday citing U.S. news outlet Politico.

President Donald Trump urged the Senate Thursday to quickly confirm Kirstjen Nielsen as Secretary of Homeland Security. She was Kelly's top aide when the former four-star Marine general led the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) during the early months of the Trump administration.

Nielsen who worked under Kelly at DHS before coming to the White House - only to go back to DHS in Kelly's old role - has earned a reputation of being tough to work with, as Kelly worked to narrow the flow of information and people into the Oval Office. She also previously served as a senior fellow at the Resilience Task Force of the Center for Cyber & Homeland Security at George Washington University.

Nielsen added that at DHS she plans to continue to provide support to communities struck by the recent wave of natural disasters, promising to "remain fully engaged in the long recovery effort ahead of us".

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"She's a total homeland security expert - absolutely has no learning curve", said Michael Allen, who worked with Ms. Nielsen during the Bush administration.

Nielsen was part of the White House team that shouldered much of the blame for the government's botched response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

It is not clear who will play that role after she leaves, and her departure will leave a hole at the White House as Mr. Trump faces an array of challenges, including confronting the threat from North Korea, addressing ruptures with his cabinet and crucial Republican lawmakers and trying to push a large tax cut through Congress. But Nielsen is not expected to face an especially hard fight, given her background as an experienced professional and a no-nonsense, nonpartisan manager.

Senate Democrats may press Nielsen on that point, especially as protection expires for some 800,000 "Dreamers" who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

The choice was greeted with praise and some relief by Homeland Security veterans, who said Nielsen is well prepared to take the job. "I look forward to working with Chairman [Ron] Johnson to ensure that the Committee's process is comprehensive and fair".

Other reports by GizPress

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