Top Ethics Dem calls for Nielsen to resign

Top Ethics Dem calls for Nielsen to resign
© Anna Moneymaker

The top Democrat on the House Ethics Committee is calling for Secretary of Homeland Security 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 to resign, accusing her of “rejecting facts and refusing to face obvious security threats.”

Rep. Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchOvernight Health Care: Democratic bill would require insurance to cover OTC birth control | House Dems vote to overturn ban on fetal tissue research | New rule aims to expand health choices for small businesses Overnight Health Care: Democratic bill would require insurance to cover OTC birth control | House Dems vote to overturn ban on fetal tissue research | New rule aims to expand health choices for small businesses House Democrats vote to overturn Trump ban on fetal tissue research MORE (D-Fla.) made the demand on Friday after Nielsen the previous day initially said she had not seen evidence that Russian hackers specifically targeted state electoral systems during the 2016 election to "favor a particular political party."

Nielsen later said she agrees "full stop" with the Obama-era intelligence community assessment released in January 2017 that found Russians interfered in the election to help 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 win.

“Casting doubt on the intelligence community’s overwhelming consensus around Russia’s attack on our nation is unacceptable, especially after President Trump spent the week trying to recover from his own shameful denials as he stood side-by-side with Putin in Helsinki,” Deutch argued in a statement.

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Trump sparked uproar this week after refusing to denounce Russia's election meddling during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. The president appeared to side with Putin's denials over the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community. Trump later backtracked on his statement, claiming he misspoke.

Deutch on Friday also pointed to Nielsen’s combative defense of the Trump administration’s controversial practice of separating children from their parents who illegally cross the U.S. southern border as justification for her resignation. Trump ended the practice last month.

“In both cases she is ignoring the facts and denying reality,” Deutch said.

Deutch also pointed to Nielsen's remarks from Thursday when she spoke about the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last year that left one woman dead. Nielsen was pressed about Trump blaming the violence at the rally on “both sides,” equivocating the white supremacists with counterprotesters.

"I think what's important about that conversation is, it's not that one side is right and one side is wrong," Nielsen said at an Aspen Security Forum event this week. "Anybody that is advocating violence, we need to work to mitigate."

Deutch chided the Trump Cabinet member over that response.

“The DHS secretary is responsible for keeping us safe at home,” Deutch said. “If she can’t state unequivocally that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are a threat to the American people, we must question her judgment.

“That she had to tiptoe around that question as though this was controversial is outrageous.”

Several Democratic lawmakers have called on Nielsen to resign during the backlash surrounding the administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

House Minority Leader 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) told Nielsen to resign after visiting a federal detention center holding migrant children separated from their parents.

“This is not an immigration issue this is a humanitarian issue. It’s about the children,” Pelosi said.