Shown at left is top aide to Kelly Kirstjen Nielsen, who will be nominated by the White House to take over the Department of Homeland Security. (DHS/Sipa USA/TNS)

Shown at left is top aide to Kelly Kirstjen Nielsen, who will be nominated by the White House to take over the Department of Homeland Security. (DHS/Sipa USA/TNS)

Trump names top Kelly aide, a cybersecurity expert, to run Homeland Security

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a cybersecurity expert and top aide to chief of staff John F. Kelly, to take over the Department of Homeland Security, the White House announced on Wednesday.

The appointment of Nielsen likely will mean a continuation of policies followed by Kelly. The retired Marine general won Trump’s praise for his tough approach to immigration enforcement during his six months running the department.

Nielsen, who previously served as Kelly’s deputy at Homeland Security, has experience in disaster response and started a consulting firm that gave her extensive expertise in cybersecurity, a top priority for the department.

In picking Nielsen, Trump passed over potential nominees with close ties to administration officials who favor hard-line efforts to restrict both legal and illegal immigration.

Among the people under consideration, according to a former Homeland Security official, were Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who is heading Trump’s voter fraud commission and who has been a leader in the immigration-restriction movement, and Rep. Lou Barletta, who launched his political career as an anti-immigration mayor.

The decision to go with Nielsen indicates that Kelly, by recommending a top aide and a Homeland Security veteran, was able to exert more influence than Stephen Miller, Trump’s speechwriter and domestic policy adviser.

The choice was greeted with praise and some relief by Homeland Security veterans, who said Nielsen is well prepared to take the job.

“The job is really difficult for anybody. It’s part cop, part consoler-in-chief, part cyber-guru and part politician,” said Stewart Verdery, a lobbyist and former assistant secretary at Homeland Security. “… she’s an expert [in] a lot of them.”

Acting Secretary Elaine Duke told her staff about the expected appointment Wednesday, according to the Homeland Security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to comment on the internal discussions. Trump’s decision to choose Nielsen was first reported by Politico.

The sprawling department includes the agencies responsible for policing borders and immigration, a central focus for the Trump administration, including Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

he department also includes the Federal Emergency Management Agency, meaning Nielsen also will assume responsibility for marshaling the government’s response to restoring Puerto Rico, Houston and Florida.

Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said he is “concerned” about Nielsen’s readiness to take over FEMA, given her tenure in the George W. Bush administration during Hurricane Katrina. She served as Bush’s special assistant in charge of preparedness and disaster response.

“It is extremely important that the DHS secretary stay above the partisan fray and not allow the position to be a political pawn of the White House,” he said.US

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Officer Nicholas Buckley, pictured here in 2014, is now working out of Bayview Station. <ins>(Department of Police Accountability records)</ins>
SF police return officer to patrol despite false testimony

A San Francisco police officer accused of fabricating a reason for arresting… Continue reading

Riordan Crusaders versus St. Ignatius Wildcats at JB Murphy Field on the St. Ignatius Prepatory High School Campus on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner)
State allows high school sports to resume, but fight is far from over

For the first time since mid-March 2020, there is hope for high… Continue reading

A nurse draws up a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Mission neighborhood COVID-19 vaccine site on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF expands vaccine eligiblity, but appointments ‘limited’

San Francisco expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations Wednesday but appointments remain limited… Continue reading

The now-shuttered Cliff House restaurant overlooks Ocean Beach people at Ocean Beach on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli / Special to the S.F. Examiner)
History buffs working to keep Cliff House collection in public view

Funds needed to buy up historic building’s contents at auction

Andra Day sounds great in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.”<ins></ins>
Singing soars in uneven ‘United States vs. Billie Holiday’

‘Test Pattern’ takes on timely issues, from racism to women’s health

Most Read