POLITICS

Kirstjen Nielsen's Last Hours As Homeland Security Secretary Riddled With Chaos

She reportedly had no idea her ouster from the department was coming.

The hours leading up to Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security on Sunday were overrun by confusion and chaos, several reports have indicated.

Her last few days in office were marked by all the power players in President Donald Trump’s orbit making her “the scapegoat for internal frustrations regarding the influx of asylum seekers and continued attempts by migrants to cross into the U.S. without legal authorization,” the Daily Beast reported.

The mounting pressure Nielsen faced her last weekend at work largely originated with Trump’s policy adviser and speechwriter Stephen Miller, who’d been “locked in a bitter cold war of backbiting and paranoia” with her for the last year and a half, according to the Daily Beast. Miller, considered the White House’s immigration hard-liner, viewed her as too soft on border issues.

Nielsen, who had toured the U.S.-Mexico border with Trump last week, reportedly did not see her ouster coming. According to an ABC News report Monday, she initiated a meeting at the White House with Trump on Sunday with plans to give him a border update, but the president used it as an opportunity to ask her to resign.

Most recently, Nielsen had provoked Trump’s ire when she told him that his demands that she bar all migrants from crossing the southern border ― even those legally seeking asylum ― were in violation of federal law, The New York Times reported.

Nielsen wasn’t the only one caught off guard by Trump’s demands she leave her position. Daily Beast national security adviser Erin Banco reported Monday that a source familiar with Nielsen’s ouster said no one on the Homeland Security Advisory Council, the panel that guides the secretary’s decisions, was briefed or told in advance of Nielsen’s resignation. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) raised concern Monday over the nature of Nielsen’s departure, pointing to that and the firing of U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles the following day as a chaos-inducing “purge.”

“DHS is now without a secretary, deputy secretary, ICE director, FEMA director, Secret Service director, inspector general, undersecretary for policy, undersecretary for science and technology, chief financial officer and chief privacy officer,” she said. “That’s at least 10 top positions filled by someone in an acting capacity.”

CONVERSATIONS