Homeland Security chief considered resigning after Trump diatribe: report

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenLeft-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing MORE was reportedly close to resigning after President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE berated her during a Cabinet meeting.

The New York Times reported that Trump lashed out at Nielsen at the meeting Wednesday, accusing her of failing to improve border security.

Nielsen has drafted a resignation letter but has not submitted it, the Times reported.

A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson denied the report.

"The @nytimes article alleging that the Secretary drafted a resignation letter yesterday and was close to resigning is false," tweeted Tyler Houlton. "The Secretary is hard at work today on the President's security-focused agenda and supporting the men and women of @DHSgov."


Trump reportedly complained to his Cabinet that they need to do more to address the border. He also questioned why Mexico had not done more to stop immigrants from crossing into the U.S. illegally.

The Times reportered that Nielsen told colleagues after the meeting that she did not believe she should continue in her role if the president did not think she was effective. 

“The president is rightly frustrated that existing loopholes and the lack of Congressional action have prevented this administration from fully securing the border and protecting the American people," Nielsen said in a statement on Thursday. "I share his frustration."

"Border security is the most basic and necessary responsibility of a sovereign nation," she continued. "These are complex issues and I will continue to direct the department to do all we can to implement the president’s security-focused agenda. It is my great honor to represent the men and women of DHS who work every day to enforce our laws and secure our nation."

The president has repeatedly called for stricter immigration laws and called for an end to illegal immigration. His signature campaign promise was that he would build a wall along the border. 

Since taking office, he has called on Congress to enact stricter immigration laws, and his Justice Department has dedicated increased resources to prosecuting illegal border crossers.

Speaking at a business roundtable in Cleveland last weekend, Trump warned that “we may have to close up our country” to fully address immigration issues.

“You can’t allow people to pour into our country like they’re doing,” Trump said. “If we don’t have borders, you don’t have a country.”

As a group of Central American migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. approached the border in recent weeks, Trump directed Nielsen not to let the so-called caravan into the country.

In response, Nielsen issued a warning that any people who cross into the U.S. illegally will be prosecuted. 

Dozens of members of the caravan have since been allowed to cross into the U.S. to plead their cases for legal asylum. The Department of Justice arrested 11 members who are accused of entering the country illegally. 

Nielsen, who succeeded White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE as DHS secretary, also carried out an order last month from Trump to deploy National Guard troops to the border to increase personnel. As a result of the directive, National Guard troops are able to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

The Department of Justice has also taken a harsher stance toward border crossing.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOne quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors Biden fills immigration court with Trump hires Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE announced that the department had enacted a “zero tolerance” policy for people who cross illegally, and warned that children who are apprehended may be separated from their family.

Updated at 6:37 p.m.