Deputy chief of staff named to head agency

San Francisco Chronicle - - NATION - By Nick Miroff Nick Miroff is a Wash­ing­ton Post writer.

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Trump in­tro­duced his pick to lead the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity Thurs­day, for­mally nom­i­nat­ing White House staffer and cybersecurity ex­pert Krist­jen Nielsen.

“I share pres­i­dent’s pro­found com­mit­ment to se­cu­rity of our coun­try,” she said at a brief White House cer­e­mony. “Truly there is noth­ing more valu­able than to feel se­cure in your home­land.”

Nielsen was the fa­vorite of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and her nom­i­na­tion is an­other sign of the for­mer Marine Corps gen­eral’s ef­fort to im­pose a more con­ven­tional, pro­fes­sional man­age­ment regime on an ad­min­is­tra­tion with a rep­u­ta­tion for dis­or­der.

Nielsen was Kelly’s chief of staff when he was DHS Sec­re­tary, and Kelly later brought her into the same role at the White House, where some staffers came to see her as the for­mer gen­eral’s dreaded en­forcer. Her sup­port­ers say she has been try­ing to help pro­fes­sion­al­ize the White House.

In in­tro­duc­ing Nielsen, Trump praised her “ster­ling rep­u­ta­tion” as a long­time pub­lic ser­vant.

“There will be no on­the-job train­ing,” he said. “She will be ready from Day One.”

If con­firmed, Nielsen would re­place Act­ing DHS Sec­re­tary Elaine Duke, who was widely crit­i­cized for char­ac­ter­iz­ing the fed­eral govern­ment’s re­sponse to Hur­ri­cane Maria in Puerto Rico as “a good news story.”

Duke as­sumed that role when Trump brought Kelly into the White House in July. Though she oth­er­wise has earned high marks for her per­for­mance, Duke does not have a back­ground in coun­tert­er­ror­ism or law en­force­ment, usual pre­req­ui­sites for lead­ing the sprawl­ing agency with a $40 bil­lion bud­get and 240,000 em­ploy­ees. Trump said Duke would re­main at DHS as Nielsen’s deputy.

Nielsen, 45, is the first nom­i­nee to have pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence at DHS. As a young at­tor­ney, she drafted leg­is­la­tion and pol­icy at the Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion, then served as a spe­cial ad­viser for emer­gency pre­pared­ness and dis­as­ter man­age­ment un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

An­drew Harnik / As­so­ci­ated Press

Kirst­jen Nielsen was the choice of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. She is a long­time pub­lic ser­vant.

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