A smooth hear­ing for John Kelly The nom­i­nee to lead DHS struck a bi­par­ti­san tone.

Home­land Se­cu­rity nom­i­nee’s tone dif­fers from pres­i­dent-elect’s

The Washington Post - - REPUBLICANS SCRAMBLE TO EASE CONCERNS ABOUT WHAT R - BY JERRY MARKON AND DAN LAMOTHE jerry.markon@wash­post.com dan.lamothe@wash­post.com

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s nom­i­nee for home­land se­cu­rity sec­re­tary struck a markedly dif­fer­ent tone from the pres­i­dent-elect on some of Trump’s sig­na­ture is­sues on Tues­day, call­ing for in­creased out­reach to Mus­lims and say­ing the con­tro­ver­sial south­west bor­der wall might not “be built any­time soon.’’

Re­tired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly made the re­marks at his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing be­fore a Se­nate com­mit­tee that was un­usual for its bi­par­ti­san tone dur­ing a highly par­ti­san era. Kelly was greeted warmly by Repub­li­cans and Democrats alike and ap­peared to be on his way to an easy con­fir­ma­tion for the high­pro­file post of run­ning the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity.

Long known for his blunt man­ner, the for­mer chief of the U.S. South­ern Com­mand added sev­eral lay­ers of un­cer­tainty to Trump’s promised crack­down on il­le­gal immigration, which was the cen­ter­piece of the pres­i­den­t­elect’s cam­paign and which Kelly would over­see at DHS.

Kelly ap­peared to play down the im­por­tance of Trump’s promised wall, telling sen­a­tors that “a phys­i­cal bar­rier in and of it­self will not do the job’’ and that tech­nol­ogy such as drones and sen­sors are also needed to se­cure the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der. He said the struc­ture might not “be built any­time soon” be­cause it is such an im­mense project, ap­pear­ing to con­tra­dict Trump, who has said build­ing the wall is “easy’’ and can be “done in­ex­pen­sively.” House Repub­li­cans said last week they plan to fund the wall, which some ex­perts have es­ti­mated will cost more than $20 bil­lion.

Kelly said he would “keep an open mind” on the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram, known as DACA. The 2012 ini­tia­tive has given tem­po­rary pro­tec­tion from de­por­ta­tion to hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple who ar­rived in the United States as chil­dren. Trump vowed dur­ing the cam­paign to re­verse it.

The rhetor­i­cal dif­fer­ence be­tween Trump and his prospec­tive DHS chief was per­haps most strik­ing on the sub­ject of Mus­lims. While Trump once called for a ban on all Mus­lims en­ter­ing the United States as a coun­tert­er­ror­ism mea­sure, Kelly noted that when he was a Marine of­fi­cer in Iraq, his forces se­cured sta­bil­ity in part by reach­ing out to cler­ics and other Mus­lim lead­ers.

“I don’t be­lieve it is ap­pro­pri­ate” to tar­get any group of peo­ple solely based on re­li­gion or eth­nic back­ground, in­clud­ing through the de­vel­op­ment of a reg­istry, Kelly told the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on Home­land Se­cu­rity and Gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs.

His re­marks, which also in­cluded a vow to pro­mote “tol­er­ance,’’ seemed to re­in­force his dec­la­ra­tion dur­ing his open­ing re­marks that he would al­ways give “those in power” his “full can­dor.’’ Though he never openly broke with the fu­ture com­man­der in chief, his words helped win over Democrats con­cerned about Trump’s in­cen­di­ary re­marks.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), the com­mit­tee’s rank­ing Demo­crat, thanked Kelly for his “ser­vice to this coun­try” and said his vow to speak truth to power had been “mu­sic to my ears.’’ She added that the com­mit­tee “is not here to par­tic­i­pate in some par­ti­san or po­lit­i­cal ex­er­cise.’’

Sen. Ron John­son (R-Wis.), the com­mit­tee’s chair­man, called Kelly “just an ex­tra­or­di­nary in­di­vid­ual, a great Amer­i­can who has served faith­fully and sac­ri­ficed might­ily for this na­tion.’’

Trump’s team was drawn to Kelly be­cause of his ex­pe­ri­ence at the South­ern Com­mand, where he over­saw mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions across Cen­tral and South Amer­ica and worked with sev­eral DHS agen­cies. Kelly is also a mem­ber of the Home­land Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil, which ad­vises the DHS sec­re­tary on a va­ri­ety of se­cu­rity is­sues.

In doc­u­ments re­leased Tues­day by the U.S. Of­fice of Gov­ern­ment Ethics, Kelly said that upon his con­fir­ma­tion he would re­sign from DynCorp In­ter­na­tional, a McLean mil­i­tary con­trac­tor where he has worked since June as an ad­viser at a salary of $166,000. He also vowed to re­sign from ad­vi­sory or board po­si­tions at two other de­fense con­trac­tors and a pri­vate eq­uity firm, which are pay­ing him a com­bined $73,000.

Kelly also said that he owns a con­sult­ing busi­ness, Oak Square Per­spec­tives, but that it is dor­mant and has never had clients. He said it would re­main dor­mant dur­ing his time at DHS.


Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), left, Ron John­son (R-Wis) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) ques­tion re­tired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, above, dur­ing his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing for the Cab­i­net job of home­land se­cu­rity sec­re­tary in Washington.

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