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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? 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 says acting Homeland Security chief McAleenan will step down Activists to demonstrate at ICE headquarters after Cameroonian immigrant dies in custody Ex-Citizenship and Immigration Services chief returns to DHS in different role MORE, congressional leaders and administration staff, according to the site. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing Democratic debate starts with immediate question on Trump impeachment White House, Pentagon, Giuliani reject House subpoenas 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.