Trump Nominates Kirstjen Nielsen as DHS Secretary
Yesterday, the White House announced the President Donald Trump would nominate Kirstjen Nielsen, his deputy chief of staff, to be the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The White House said Nielsen, “has extensive professional experience in the areas of homeland security policy and strategy, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure, and emergency management.”
Prior to serving as the president’s deputy chief of staff, Nielsen served as chief of staff to current White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, during his tenure as DHS Secretary. She has also worked as a special assistant in President George W. Bush’s administration and spent time at the Transportation Security Administration, a fact that, according to the White House, would make her the first DHS Secretary to have previous experience working for the agency.
Nielsen has been noted for her “brusque” style of leadership. In a profile piece written last month, corresponding with her move from DHS to the White House as Kelly’s second-in-command, the New York Times characterized her as Kelly’s “enforcer,” noting that those close to Nielsen “have counseled her to lighten up and to pay more attention to the perfunctory niceties of a not-so-nice job.”
The Times also calls Nielsen a “no-nonsense player and policy wonk,” who “appears unlikely to land at the center of the type of controversies that have engulfed Mr. Trump’s presidency.”
Sources who have worked closely with Nielsen praised her qualifications. According to Frances Townsend, Nielsen’s boss during her tenure in the Bush White House, “She is tough as nails, competent and has rightly earned the president’s respect.”
And Tom Ridge, the first-ever Homeland Security Secretary, said Nielsen is “extremely well-versed in the all-hazard threats challenging the security and resilience of our homeland. Most importantly, in this hyper-political environment, Kirstjen is not a self-promoter. She is a patriot and takes a mission-focused approach to her work.”
Nielsen, if confirmed, will take the reins from Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, who has helped DHS navigate a spate of hurricanes that devastated swaths of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.
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