ePaper

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Trump nominates White House aide for homeland security post

  • Print



President Donald Trump will nominate Kirstjen Nielsen, who as top aide to his White House chief of staff has sought to instill order in Trump`s team, to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.

If confirmed by the Senate, Nielsen would take the reins at a sprawling department with more than 240,000 employees that is responsible for U.S. border and airport security, immigration policy, disaster response, refugee admissions and other matters.

Nielsen, 45, is a cyber security expert with a considerable resume in homeland security that includes work at the department`s Transportation Security Administration and on former Republican President George W. Bush`s White House Homeland Security Council.

Nielsen was retired Marine Corps General John Kelly`s chief of staff when he was secretary of homeland security during the opening months of Trump`s presidency. Kelly brought her to the White House as his deputy when Trump named him chief of staff in July to replace Reince Priebus after only six months on the job.

The nomination requires Senate confirmation.

Nielsen`s departure from the White House would mark the latest upheaval in Trump`s White House team. She was responsible for carrying out some of Kelly`s orders on who gets access to the president. As a result, she has irritated some White House officials who now have limited contact with Trump, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Kelly has sought to bring more order to the chaotic West Wing since replacing Priebus. Trump has welcomed the changes to some extent, although he has privately confided to friends that the limitations on access to the Oval Office sometimes go too far.

Putting Nielsen into the Homeland Security post will allow Trump and Kelly to keep a close eye on the department, but getting her out of the White House could permit some of Kelly`s strictness to be relaxed.

The department has been led by an acting secretary, Elaine Duke, since Kelly took the White House post.


Cyber security is one of the primary issues under the Homeland Security Department`s portfolio. Nielsen previously worked at a cyber think tank at George Washington University, blocks from the White House, and is considered well-versed in some of the more technical missions at the department, such as sharing cyber-threat information with the private sector.

The department was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States exposed cracks in the country`s homeland security apparatus.

The appointment comes at a busy time for the department, with one of its agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, overseeing disaster relief in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida as well as wildfire-ravaged areas of California. The department also is responsible for U.S. border security.

The department is a major player in implementing Trump`s aggressive stance towards deporting illegal immigrants, as well as vetting the lower number of refugees Trump has decided to allow into the United States and devising his travel ban on six Muslim-majority nations, North Korea and certain Venezuelans.

`LOW-DRAMA PICK`

"It seems like a low-drama pick. It`s a little concerning that she seems to have little background in immigration security and policy, but those individual agencies are in good hands already, and there is a strong core of career managers," said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, which favours more limits on immigration. 

Nielsen is not known for hard-line views on immigration like those of White House adviser Stephen Miller.

If confirmed, Nielsen would be the first homeland security secretary to have previously served as a rank-and-file member of the department. Some previous DHS secretaries have been criticized for not possessing enough technical fluency to address cyber threats facing the nation.

She also served as a corporate attorney and a congressional staff member, the White House statement said.

"Kirstjen`s a policy wonk at heart, especially when it comes to cyber," Frank Cilluffo, a former senior homeland security official under Bush who worked with Nielsen at George Washington University.

Nielsen would immediately be given the task of helping coordinate the federal response to potential cyber attacks that target elections. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election to try to help Trump win, in part by hacking and releasing emails embarrassing to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, and through online propaganda.

Russia has denied meddling in the election and Trump has denied any collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

Jeh Johnson, who served as former Democratic President Barack Obama`s last homeland secretary chief, designated election systems as critical infrastructure, widening the support the department can provide to states. But the department has clashed with several state officials over how best to cooperate to defend future elections.

Politico first reported the appointment.

More News For this Category

'Jerusalem should be Palestinian capital'

| By
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday urged the world to recognize occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas warned there could be
'Jerusalem should be Palestinian capital'

Moore defeat: 3 outcomes of Alabama election

| By
Christmas has come early for Democrats, who notched a surprise win in Alabama in one of the most unpredictable, improbable Senate races in modern memory. But what kind of
Moore defeat: 3 outcomes of Alabama election

UK rebellion threat to key EU bill

| By
The government is facing the threat of a defeat by rebel backbenchers when MPs vote on its flagship EU legislation.Led by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve - a Conservative

US ready for N Korea talks, says Tillerson

| By
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson  offered on Tuesday to begin direct talks with North Korea without pre-conditions, backing away from a key US demand that Pyong-yang must first

Air strikes kill 12 in Yemen

| By
Saudi-led air strikes on a prison camp run by rebels in Yemen killed 12 people and wounded 80 on Wednesday, the rebels' Al-Masirah TV reported.There has been no let-up

Palestine's Abbas says US Jerusalem decision 'greatest crime'

| By Asian Age Online
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday, the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
Palestine's Abbas says US Jerusalem decision 'greatest crime'

‘US open to possible talks with N Korea ‘

| By Asian Age Online
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has softened America's stance on possible talks with North Korea, calling it "unrealistic"
 ‘US open to possible talks with N Korea ‘

FBI agent on Russia probe called Donald Trump 'idiot'

| By Asian Age Online
A senior FBI agent removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe this year referred to Donald Trump before
FBI agent on Russia probe called Donald Trump 'idiot'

New York bombing heightens fears of holiday attacks

| By Asian Age Online
The abortive bombing by an Islamic State-inspired Bangladeshi in New York has raised fresh fears of a possible
New York bombing heightens fears of holiday attacks

US slaps terror charges on accused Times Square bomber

| By Asian Age Online
United States prosecutors on Tuesday brought federal charges against the suspect in Mondays attempted suicide bombing in one
US slaps terror charges on accused Times Square bomber

© 2017 The Asian Age