Donald Trump nominates Kirstjen Nielsen to lead Department of Homeland Security.
President Donald Trump nominated Kirstjen Nielsen on Wednesday for one of the most difficult jobs in the federal government: running the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS, a 15-year-old department cobbled together from parts of other Cabinet departments after 9/11, is the heart of Donald Trump’s executive-branch agenda through its management of immigration enforcement at the border (Customs and Border Protection) and in the interior (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). But it’s also host to a slew of other agencies that don’t draw attention when they’re doing their jobs well, but can cause huge problems when they don’t: scandal-plagued Secret Service and the much hated Transportation Security Administration, FEMA, etc.
Nielsen’s current job, however, may leave her well-prepared for this task. Since John Kelly was appointed Trump’s chief of staff in August to bring some discipline to Trump’s White House, she’s been working as Kelly’s deputy: the enforcer’s enforcer. From that perspective, DHS secretary may not actually be a tougher job than the one she has now.
If confirmed by the Senate, which has tended to greenlight Trump’s nominees, Nielsen would be the first head of the department to have actually worked in it before. She worked at the TSA under George W. Bush, as well as on the Homeland Security Council in Bush’s White House. Her expertise is in cybersecurity, disaster preparedness, and efficient execution. She was also Kelly’s deputy at DHS during the first six months of the Trump administration, before being brought over with him to attempt to bring some semblance of order to a White House marked by chaos.