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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad 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 NielsenThe Seila Law case: Liberty and political firing Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers MORE, congressional leaders and administration staff, according to the site. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSupreme Court expands religious rights with trio of rulings Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits Democrats see victory in Trump culture war 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.


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.