House

Top Ethics Dem calls for Nielsen to resign

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

Rep. Ted Deutch (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 Trump 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.

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 Pelosi (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. 

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