25 September 2023

UNITED STATES: President targets Homeland Security

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US Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen (pictured) may be the next senior US Public Servant to feel the wrath of the White House in a continuing series of sackings and purges.

US President, Donald Trump has reportedly told advisors he wants to remove Ms Nielsen as he is frustrated over her performance containing immigration.

Washington insiders believe her departure is likely to occur in coming weeks, to be replaced with someone more in tune with Mr Trump’s policy ideas.

Chief of Staff, John Kelly is believed to be fighting Ms Nielsen’s pending dismissal and attempting to postpone it, but Mr Kelly’s own future in the Administration is believed to be shaky, according to White House sources.

Ms Nielsen has been reluctant to leave the Administration before reaching the one-year mark as Secretary, on 6 December, but she has been unhappy in the job for several months, according to colleagues.

Mr Trump has berated her during Cabinet meetings, belittled her to other White House staff and tagged her months ago as a “Bushie”, a reference to her previous service under former President George W. Bush and meant to cast suspicion on her loyalty.

Ms Nielsen has tried to explain the laws and regulations that prevent the Government from drastically curtailing immigration or closing the border with Mexico, as Mr Trump has suggested.

However, the President is impatient with such details, sources said.

Her departure would leave a leadership void at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Government’s third-largest Agency, which has 240,000 employees and a US$60 billion (A$82.4 billion) budget.

The Deputy Secretary job at DHS has been vacant since April, and the White House has not submitted a nomination to Congress for that post.

Unless Mr Trump names another official to lead DHS in an acting capacity, the day-to-day task of running the Agency will fall to Undersecretary for Management, Claire Grady.

Washington, DC, 14 November 2018

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