Trump referred to current acting DHS chief as 'an Obama guy' during heated meeting: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' DC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' Mexico's immigration chief resigns amid US pressure over migrants MORE reportedly referred to then-Customs and Border Protection (CBP) chief Kevin McAleenan, who was appointed acting Homeland Security secretary last week, as an “Obama guy” during the government shutdown, according to Axios.

Trump made the remark early in January during a meeting between himself, then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump admin program sends asylum-seekers to await claims in Mexico, despite fears of violence: report Trump admin program sends asylum-seekers to await claims in Mexico, despite fears of violence: report Juan Williams: Cloud of illegitimacy hangs over Trump MORE, congressional leaders and administration staff, according to the site. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi hits Trump on health care: His 'cruel hypocrisy knows no bounds' Pelosi hits Trump on health care: His 'cruel hypocrisy knows no bounds' On The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill MORE (D-Calif.) reportedly told Nielsen she believed her characterization of the immigration situation along the U.S.-Mexico border was politically motivated, according to Axios.

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Nielsen told Pelosi that McAleenan, whom she called a “career professional,” agreed with Nielsen’s assessment. When Pelosi said McAleenan was also a Trump loyalist, Trump responded that “he’s an Obama guy," according to Axios.

Trump intended his characterization to mean McAleenan “has credibility on the issue and worked in another administration,” a senior White House official told the publication.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement, "It is a statement of fact that this administration has used false statistics in an effort to support their anti-immigrant policies that are creating a massive humanitarian challenge at the border."

McAleenan became deputy CBP commissioner under the Obama administration in 2014 before becoming acting commissioner in January 2017 and being confirmed as commissioner that May. He previously served in the CBP under the George W. Bush administration before leaving for private consulting and returning to the agency in 2010. Trump announced he had been named acting DHS secretary after Nielsen's resignation last Sunday.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.