Nielsen says she shares Trump ‘goal of securing the border’
Outgoing Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen thanked President Donald Trump for the opportunity to serve and said she shared his “goal of securing the border” in brief remarks outside of her home Monday morning.
“I just want to thank the president again for the tremendous opportunity to serve this country,” she told reporters. “I am forever grateful and proud of the men and women of DHS who worked so hard every day to execute their missions and to protect the Homeland.”
Trump announced Nielsen’s departure on Sunday evening and named Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to take over in an acting capacity. According to multiple administration officials, over the past few months, it had become clear to many inside the White House that Nielsen had few allies left in the West Wing, particularly following last year’s departure of chief of staff John Kelly, widely seen as her biggest advocate in the White House.
Nielsen butted heads with Kelly’s replacement Mick Mulvaney. White House senior adviser Stephen Miller openly complained about her to the president. She was also a target of national security adviser John Bolton, according to four people familiar with their relationship. Bolton often criticized Nielsen for how she was handling immigration issues and had no hesitation about expressing his reservations openly in front of President Trump.
Nielsen did not have the support of President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner either, who has become more involved in immigration talks recently, according to one administration official. In a sense, Nielsen had become an island unto herself inside the West Wing, and the people who talk to Trump the most were openly against her.
By early Sunday, Nielsen knew how the day would likely go and that she would likely be forced to resign, according to a source familiar with her thinking.
Nielsen said on Twitter she’ll stay on through Wednesday.