Trump: Pick for Home­land Se­cu­rity chief ‘ready on Day One’

Orlando Sentinel - - NATION & WORLD - By Darlene Superville As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Thurs­day in­tro­duced his choice to lead the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, a for­mer staffer at the fed­eral agency who he says will need “no on-the-job train­ing” to take on the lead role.

Trump called on Con­gress to “put pol­i­tics aside” and con­firm deputy White House chief of staff Kirst­jen Nielsen by a “strong, bi­par­ti­san vote.”

But even be­fore Trump for­mally an­nounced Nielsen’s ap­point­ment dur­ing an East Room cer­e­mony that was at­tended by much of the Cabi­net and se­nior mem­bers of the White House staff, the top Demo­crat on a key com­mit­tee sig­naled that he had ques­tions about Nielsen’s back­ground. Her nom­i­na­tion must be con­firmed by the Sen­ate.

“There will be no on the job train­ing for Kirsten. She is ready on Day One,” Trump said.

Nielsen told the pres­i­dent she was “hum­bled by the trust you are plac­ing in me.” If con­firmed by the Sen­ate, she will be­come the sixth sec­re­tary of a depart­ment that was cre­ated in the wake of the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

Nielsen had been chief of staff to John Kelly when he was Trump’s first home­land se­cu­rity sec­re­tary. Kelly brought Nielsen to the White House when Trump named him chief of staff in late July, and Trump tapped her to be Kelly’s deputy.

Nielsen pre­vi­ously served as a spe­cial as­sis­tant to Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush and worked for the Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The White House said Wed­nes­day in a writ­ten an­nounce­ment that Nielsen “has ex­ten­sive pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence in the ar­eas of home­land se­cu­rity pol­icy and strat­egy, cybersecurity, crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture, and emer­gency man­age­ment.” She’s also the first nom­i­nee to have pre­vi­ously worked for the depart­ment.

Nielsen, how­ever, has drawn some re­sent­ment in her cur­rent White House po­si­tion, as she and Kelly have tried to in­still more dis­ci­pline at the White House. That has in­cluded lim­it­ing ac­cess to the pres­i­dent to some who had for­merly en­joyed nearunim­peded ac­cess.

Rep. Ben­nie Thomp­son of Mis­sis­sippi, the se­nior Demo­crat on the House Com­mit­tee on Home­land Se­cu­rity, said Wed­nes­day in a state­ment he was pleased the pres­i­dent had made a de­ci­sion on filling the post “af­ter let­ting the crit­i­cal na­tional se­cu­rity po­si­tion re­main va­cant as the na­tion faced mul­ti­ple ma­jor hur­ri­canes and a do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism at­tack.”

Thomp­son said he had ques­tions about Nielsen’s back­ground, in­clud­ing her past work for the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion.


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