Not even a full day after the midterm votes were tabulated, President Trump had already made one of his widely-expected changes to his Executive Cabinet. By sending Attorney General Jeff Sessions on his merry way, Trump all but confirmed reports that some significant shakeups were in store for the administration after the elections. Now it seems that another change is imminent, this one over at the Department of Homeland Security.
According to a Tuesday story from the Washington Post, several current and former White House officials say the president “has decided to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and her departure from the administration is likely to occur in the coming weeks, if not sooner.”
“Trump canceled a planned trip with Nielsen this week to visit U.S. troops at the border in South Texas and told aides over the weekend that he wants her out as soon as possible, these officials said,” reports the Post. “The president has grumbled for months about what he views as Nielsen’s lackluster performance on immigration enforcement and is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his policy ideas with more alacrity.”
Three White House officials said that the official decision to replace Nielsen could come by the end of this week.
The news of Nielsen’s imminent departure cannot be considered a shock, since it never seemed as though the president was that happy with her in the first place. He nominated her to the position on the strong advice of Gen. John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, and almost immediately regretted the move. Watching Nielsen waver on the importance of signature Trump issues like the Wall and zero-tolerance immigration enforcement, he concluded that she was little more than a holdover from the Bush days. As an illegal immigrant surge hit the border this year, he blamed Nielsen for not doing more to carry out his wishes.
It is unclear who might ascend to become the third DHS secretary of the Trump administration. No one is currently sitting in the deputy position, and Trump has offered no specific names for Senate consideration. One possibility is Kansas’ Kris Kobach, whose hardline views on immigration are a match for the president’s. There is some doubt, however, about Kobach’s ability to get confirmed. Another slim possibility would be retired ICE acting Director Tom Honan, but that would depend on Trump’s ability to convince him to leave the cozy private sector behind once again.
Whomever Trump chooses, count on him (or her) being much more in line with the president’s immigration agenda.