National Security

Kirstjen Nielsen Out at Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan Steps In

'I would like to thank her for her service,' said the president shortly after he called for stronger measures at the border

Image Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images & PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images

Kirstjen Nielsen, 46, who has served as secretary of Homeland Security in the Trump administration since her confirmation in December 2017, will leave the position, President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday afternoon.

“I would like to thank her for her service,” he said.

“I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, will become acting secretary for @DHSgov,” the president also said. “I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!”

Trump had a meeting with Nielsen at 5 p.m. on Sunday at the White House, CBS News reported.

After that meeting, Trump made his announcement.

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Nielsen’s exit comes just two days after the commander-in-chief visited the border in Calexico, California, on Friday. He said during that visit that America’s asylum system is “full” and could not take any more individuals.

He also said that some of those seeking asylum at the border were actually gang members.

“I look at some of these asylum people, they’re gang members,” he said. “They’re not afraid of anything. They have lawyers greeting them. They read what lawyers tell them to read.”

It’s a “scam,” Trump said. “It’s a scam, OK? It’s a hoax. I know about hoaxes,” he added. “I just went through a hoax.

That was a reference, clearly, to the nearly two-year probe into potential collusion between Trump or his associates and members of the Russian government.

Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team found no evidence of collusion.

“The system is full. We can’t take you anymore. Whether it’s asylum, whether it’s anything you want. It’s illegal immigration,” Trump continued on Friday.

“Nielsen’s expected departure is a part of a massive DHS overhaul engineered and directed by top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, according to a senior U.S. official,” CBS News reported on Sunday. “It’s unclear whether Nielsen is deciding to resign voluntarily, or whether she has been pressured to resign … Questions about how much longer she might last have swirled for months, as the president continues to articulate his frustrations about illegal immigration.”

The Washington Examiner reported that she resigned.

In her resignation letter, Nielsen said she had “determined that it is the right time for me to step aside.”

She also wrote, “I hope that the next secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure America’s borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation’s discourse.”

Border Patrol officials on Friday said they had completed some 82 miles of barrier so far, will finish 97 more miles by the end of 2019, and will finish another 277 miles by the end of 2020 — for a total of roughly 450 miles.

Trump also stressed again the “absolute emergency” at the border.

A top Senate Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), several weeks ago conceded in a conference call with reporters at the conclusion of the Mueller report, “It’s the end of the beginning but it’s not the beginning of the end.”

Coons said the party would be moving along to other investigations — including probes into Trump’s financial dealings.

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