President Trump considering Thomas Homan for DHS Secretary
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President Trump considering Thomas Homan for DHS Secretary


WASHINGTON, DC – November 14, 2018

There have been several reports recently that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who succeeded John Kelly as head of DHS when he took the Chief of Staff job, might be replaced.

The reports evolved yesterday towards “exit likely but timing uncertain.”

Apparently, all of Kelly's lobbying on her behalf failed to convince Trump to keep her on. The issue with removing Nielsen is her attachment to current Chief-of-Staff John Kelly: If Trump removes Nielsen, he would likely also have to replace General Kelly because they are essentially a professional pairing and have been for several years.

In a slightly more surprising development, Trump has also decided to remove John Bolton's top deputy, Mira Ricardel, over an unspecified dispute with the First Lady.


Right now, the only thing stopping Trump from firing Nielsen is that he doesn't have a candidate lined up to replace her, per WSJ. However, there’s a fantastic report now swirling that former ICE Director Tom Homan might be the lead candidate for Homeland Security Secretary. That would be an excellent spot for Homan, with all of the current border issues now weighing on the larger national security dynamic. Hopefully, this ends up being the switch-out.

Jeff Sessions has already packed up his things and left the DOJ for the last time, and it's likely that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will be next to go given Trump's well-documented frustrations with Ross's job performance and the percolating scandals surrounding possible ethics violations.

 And to the list of likely Trump administration post-midterm departures, we can now add Secretary of Homeland Security Kirsten Nielsen, whom Trump has reportedly decided to remove after months of explosive outbursts over what he has perceived as her "poor performance" on immigration—an issue that Trump sees (with some reason, as the midterms showed) as crucial to his political survival, according to the Washington Post. 

The report surfaced after Trump canceled a planned trip with Nielsen to visit US troops at the border in South Texas earlier this week. Trump reportedly told aides over the weekend that he wants Nielsen out ASAP, though the secretary is desperately trying to hang on until Dec. 6, which would mark her one-year anniversary in the job. Trump, who has complained about Nielsen for months, is looking for a replacement who will do a better job of implementing his immigration agenda.

Notably, a DHS spokesman refused to confirm or deny the report and DHS officials who work with Nielsen declined to address her potential departure Monday. “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,” spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton said in a statement.

As early as May, reports surfaced suggesting that Nielsen had borne the brunt of President Trump's anger over a rebound in illegal border crossings (after crossings dropped to multiyear lows following Trump's 2016 election). That anger has only intensified by her resistance to Trump's rhetoric about the migrant caravans, as well as his order to send thousands of US troops to the border. Trump has also reportedly berated her during cabinet meetings, criticized her to other administration officials and tagged her as a "Bushie" due to her service in the Bush administration.

Trump became incensed last month when Nielsen tried to explain during the runup to the midterm vote why the president couldn't close the southern border with Mexico or drastically limit immigration.

But despite her obvious reservations, Nielsen has stood up and defended controversial Trump Administration policies like the "zero tolerance" policy for illegal aliens traveling with children. The border separations triggered widespread outrage toward the administration last spring, and Trump eventually caved and reversed the policy under pressure. However, before he did that, Nielsen stood up and delivered a convincing defense of the administration's measures.

At the peak of controversy over the Trump administration’s "zero tolerance" family-separation initiative, Nielsen nonetheless stood at the White House lectern and delivered a vigorous defense of the measures. The president loved her performance — especially when she said there was no administration policy on separations. Days later, under withering criticism, the president changed his mind and ordered an end to the separations.

But if Nielsen is swept out during Trump's second significant cabinet shakeup, all eyes will turn to Chief of Staff John Kelly, who has long been Nielsen's biggest champion. He has previously stuck his neck out to defend her to the President, and her dismissal will inevitably revive speculation that Kelly's name might also be on Trump's "naughty" list. As WaPo reported, though Kelly has tried his hardest to stop Trump from firing Nielsen, his future in the administration is also “shaky.”

Author: USA Really