Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen might lose her job as soon as this week, according to the Wall Street Journal. If there is any indication of this being true one only need consider that Trump has cancelled a planned trip with Nielsen to visit troops at the US-Mexico border, telling his aides that he wanted her out as soon as possible, five former and current White House officials told the newspaper.
Nielsen’s role in the Trump administration has been uncertain for some time. She reportedly drafted a resignation letter in May. Trump is believed to have berated her in front of other cabinet officials over his belief that she did a poor job securing the US-Mexico border, former officials said in a New York Times report. However, she is supposedly reluctant to leave the post before reaching the one-year mark.
The DHS dodged requests for comment on the secretary’s rumored departure, releasing only a vague statement.
“The Secretary is honored to lead the men and women of DHS and is committed to implementing the President’s security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so,” the DHS said on Monday.
The rumors of Nielsen’s imminent departure were reinforced by ABC’s reporting on Tuesday.
“There’s no love lost between either of them,” an anonymous administration official told ABC about Nielsen-Trump relations. “All that has kept Nielsen on was not her loyalty to the president but desire to protect the department from his whims and to let her people do their jobs.”
According to the same sources, which remain unnamed and therefore impossible to verify, Nielsen’s departure is being delayed by her predecessor and the current White House chief of staff, John Kelly. Trump is said to have tried to fire Nielsen before, yet Kelly always stepped in, threatening to resign in order to protect his former aide.
Bolton and Kelly exchange profanities outside Oval Office over immigration policy https://t.co/ArjR5i95ol
— RT (@RT_com) October 19, 2018
Trump may have decided to deal with Kelly’s resignation, however, according to the very same anonymous insiders. The president has reportedly already found a replacement for Kelly in Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff. Some of the sources allegedly close to the president told ABC that picking Ayers instead of Kelly was a “done deal,” yet others were less certain.
Media reports have also accused Kelly of repeatedly engaging in spats with other White House staffers, including National Security Advisor John Bolton. Last month, right outside the Oval Office, Kelly and Bolton reportedly had a heated, profanity-laden exchange over immigration policies.
While the chief of staff defended Nielsen, Bolton accused her of failing to actually implement Trump’s strict immigration policies. News outlets circulated rumors that Kelly or Bolton – or both – would resign or be fired over the incident, but nothing came of it.