A Democratic senator on Thursday expressed concerns about President Trump potentially ousting Kirstjen Nielsen as head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“The only problem with [Nielsen] leaving: who are we gonna get in her stead?” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told Hill.TV.
“She’s not pleased us on our side of the aisle often. But she has a thankless job – she’s in a very very difficult position and I don’t think it’s for me to say if she should stay or go but, we need somebody that’s really good in that position, somebody that will stand up to the president if they disagree,” Carper said.
Trump said Wednesday that he would “decide shortly” on Nielsen’s fate, telling the conservative outlet The Daily Caller, “I’m looking at things. I haven’t made a decision yet.”
Nielsen took over the helm of DHS late last year, but Trump has been frustrated with his Homeland Security chief over his view that she hasn’t been aggressive enough on immigration enforcement.
Trump is weighing her ouster as part of a potential shakeup of his Cabinet and senior staff, with a Nielsen exit potentially triggering the departure of White House chief of staff John Kelly.
Nielsen served as Kelly’s chief staff when he led DHS early in Trump’s tenure, and she also served as his deputy when Kelly moved to his current role at the White House before taking over at DHS.
Carper said Thursday that he wished Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, was still atop DHS but expressed uncertainty about who would take over his position if he was not in the White House.
The Democratic senator said that right now Kelly is “in a place where he’s probably able to do more good or at least keep more bad from happening.”
– Molly Hooper