Following the loss of the House in the midterms, President Trump has been culling his cabinet. Joining former Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, according to Reuters.
Nielsen was, in large part, overseer of the Trump policy of family separation at the border with Mexico over the summer that saw the construction of a tent city that’s still in operation. Nielsen ardently defended the policy and was heckled by protesters for it.
“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,” said Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton.
Reuters cited reports that the President has “grown weary” of Nielsen in his efforts to harden the US-Mexico border. Nielsen is the replacement for, and protege of, General John Kelly who left the Department of Homeland Security to become White House Chief of Staff, a job he is rumored to passionately hate.
And Trump is none too fond of Kelly either.
Reports that Trump planned to kick Kelly to the curb, or that Kelly was on the verge of storming out of the West Wing and never looking back, have gone back months so the latest report from Reuters should be taken with a grain of salt.
But Kelly and Trump’s relationship has been a tumultuous one. In the explosive book Fear, Bob Woodward recounted Kelly saying that the President was ‘unhinged‘, an ‘idiot‘ and that he had ‘gone off the rails‘. Woodward’s Watergate coverage colleague Carl Bernstein suggested that in the wake of the book Kelly ought to resign and testify before Congress.
If these reports are true, Nielsen and Kelly will join Sessions in leaving a White House which has set records for rapid turnover of high-profile positions. Brookings has tracked the White House resignations and ousters; some cabinet secretaries on their list found out they were fired via Twitter.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.