Politics Trump: Nielsen 'tremendously qualified' to lead Homeland Security

22:26  12 october  2017
22:26  12 october  2017 Source:   The Hill

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WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump will nominate Kirstjen Nielsen — who, as the top aide to his White House chief of staff, has sought to instil order in Trump ’s team — to lead the US Department of Homeland Security , the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.

Trump: Nielsen 'tremendously qualified' to lead Homeland Security © Provided by The Hill Trump: Nielsen 'tremendously qualified' to lead Homeland Security President Trump on Thursday formally announced he will nominate his deputy chief of staff, Kirstjen Nielsen, to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

"I call upon the Senate...to confirm this tremendously qualified and talented nominee." Trump said during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

Trump cheered Nielsen as "a dedicated leader whose priority is always the safety and security of our country and our citizens, not politics or ideology."

If she is confirmed, Nielsen will lead a sprawling Cabinet agency charged with securing the nation's borders and airports, enforcing immigration laws, coordinating disaster relief efforts and overseeing the Secret Service and U.S. Coast Guard.

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A handful of media outlets reported Wednesday afternoon that Trump would soon announce that he’s selected Nielsen , who will then need to be confirmed by the Senate. Nielsen , 45, is a cybersecurity expert and an attorney with an extensive background in homeland security , including stints at the

The 15-year-old department has seen its importance increase in the Trump administration, which has put a premium on toughening national security.

Nielsen has close ties to chief of staff John Kelly; she served as his top aide when he was Homeland Security secretary. She moved with the retired Marine Corps general to the White House when Trump tapped him as his chief of staff.

"Kirstjen was integral to the progress we have made in controlling our borders, confronting gain violence, preparing for disasters, and protecting aviation security," Trump said Thursday afternoon.

She is respected in Republican national security circles and is expected to face a relatively easy path to confirmation.

Before joining the department earlier this year, Nielsen was a senior fellow at George Washington University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. The 45-year-old previously worked at the Transportation Security Administration and served on President George W. Bush's Homeland Security Council.

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"Ms. Nielsen's long history of service with the department, her cybersecurity experience and her tenure serving with Gen. John Kelly would serve her well as the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security," Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said in a statement Wednesday.

Johnson said he would work closely with the administration and the panel's ranking member, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), to "expedite the consideration of Ms. Nielsen's nomination."

But Nielsen has also been the subject of scrutiny over her current role at the White House. She has reportedly acted as Kelly's enforcer as he has sought to impose order and discipline on a chaotic and disorganized West Wing. That includes restricting access to the Oval Office and streamlining the flow of information to the president.

One former Bush administration official expressed concern over her selection, describing Nielsen as less qualified than Elaine Duke, who is currently leading the department in an acting capacity.

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  White House: Trump picks deputy chief of staff to lead DHS President Donald Trump will nominate his deputy chief of staff, Kirstjen Nielsen, as his next secretary of Homeland Security, the White House announced Wednesday. Nielsen formerly served as John Kelly's chief of staff when he held the position of Trump's first DHS secretary. She moved with Kelly to the White House when he was tapped to be Trump’s chief of staff. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will nominate his deputy chief of staff, Kirstjen Nielsen, as his next secretary of Homeland Security, the White House announced Wednesday.

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"I think her credentials are being a little bit inflated," said the former official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. "It seems like more of a lazy pick than a wide search."

Her nomination comes at a time when the president and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which DHS oversees, have come under staunch criticism for their response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Trump urged the Senate to "put politics aside" and swiftly confirm Nielson "in light of the serious threats facing our country and the natural disaster recovery efforts."

Nielsen would replace Duke, a career civil servant who has led DHS since the end of July, when Trump picked Kelly as White House chief of staff.

Duke received praise for her handling of hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida, but has come under fire over the devastation in Puerto Rico. She was forced to clarify her claim last month that the federal response to Maria is "a good news story."

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), a ranking member of the House Homeland Security panel, said he was pleased Trump had selected a permanent agency head "after letting the critical national security position remain vacant as the nation faced multiple major hurricanes and a domestic terrorism attack."

Thompson said, however, he is "very concerned" about Nielsen's work in the Bush administration "during its botched response to Hurricane Katrina and am fearful that DHS - as well as this president - has not learned all the lessons from that tragedy given what we are seeing unravel in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands."

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