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Friday, February 3, 2023

Nielsen Out at DHS, Trump Tweets; McAleenan to Take Acting Role

President Trump tweeted this evening that Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is out at the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection Commission Kevin McAleenan will be moving into the acting role leading DHS.

“Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service,” Trump tweeted.

“I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for @DHSgov. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!” he added.

CBS News reported one unnamed official as stating that McAleenan, who was confimed to lead CBP in March 2018, was unlikely to be nominated to take the reins permanently at DHS.

Nielsen, who replaced former DHS Secretary John Kelly in December 2017, had a 5 p.m. meeting with Trump at the White House. CNN reported that she did not intend to resign in the meeting, intended to focus on immigration and border issues, but “was going there with an agenda” and had a resignation letter prepared. Trump was reportedly frustrated that immigration officials have been allowing Central American migrants to seek asylum, per current law.

“I hope that the next Secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure America’s borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation’s discourse,” the Nielsen letter says in part.

Two days ago Trump suddenly withdrew his nomination of Ron Vitiello to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a move that reportedly was prompted by Trump senior advisor and immigration hardliner Stephen Miller.

“We’re going in a little different direction. Ron’s a good man,” Trump told reporters Friday. “But we’re going in a tougher direction. We want to go in a tougher direction.”

The Associated Press reported Saturday that Miller is also “eyeing the removal” of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Francis Cissna. The White House did not comment.

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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