Trump to pick Nielsen for Home­land head


Pres­i­dent Trump said Wednesday he’ll nom­i­nate Kirst­jen Nielsen, a long­time Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial and now top aide to White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, to be the new head of Home­land Se­cu­rity.

The move would be a big leap for Ms. Nielsen, the prin­ci­pal deputy chief of staff, who has never run an op­er­a­tion the size of the mas­sive Home­land Se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus, which in­cludes 230,000 em­ploy­ees and spans ev­ery­thing from the Se­cret Ser­vice and dis­as­ter re­sponse to three agen­cies that han­dle im­mi­gra­tion.

It would also mark a ma­jor shift at the depart­ment from Mr. Kelly, a re­tired Marine Corps gen­eral who was Mr. Trump’s first Home­land Se­cu­rity sec­re­tary.

As for­mer head of U.S. South­ern Com­mand, Mr. Kelly had ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence with the play­ers and the is­sues in the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate and made ma­jor strides dur­ing his six months in chang­ing the depart­ment’s fo­cus from the more re­laxed ap­proach of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ms. Nielsen’s chief gov­ern­ment ex­pe­ri­ence, mean­while, came with Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush. She served on Mr. Bush’s home­land se­cu­rity coun­cil, and in the Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion, which is part of the depart­ment she would take over.

The White House said she’s the first nom­i­nee in the 14-year his­tory of the depart­ment to have worked at Home­land Se­cu­rity be­fore.

“Ms. Nielsen has ex­ten­sive pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence in the ar­eas of home­land se­cu­rity pol­icy and strat­egy, cy­ber­se­cu­rity, crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture, and emer­gency man­age­ment,” the White House said in a state­ment.

Sen. Ron John­son, chair­man of the Se­nate Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee, said he would try to speed con­sid­er­a­tion of her nom­i­na­tion through.

“Ms. Nielsen’s long his­tory of ser­vice with the depart­ment, her cy­ber­se­cu­rity ex­pe­ri­ence and her ten­ure serv­ing with Gen­eral John Kelly would serve her well as the next sec­re­tary of the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity,” the Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can said.

While at the Bush White House, Ms. Nielsen was in charge of emer­gency pre­pared­ness, and came in for crit­i­cism in the wake of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005.

She was also a se­nior fel­low at Ge­orge Washington Univer­sity’s Cen­ter for Cy­ber & Home­land Se­cu­rity.

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