President Donald Trump on Thursday formally tapped Kirstjen Nielsen to run the Department of Homeland Security, saying she would be ready on “Day 1” to lead the department where she previously worked alongside former DHS Secretary John Kelly.
“At this crucial time, we need the Senate to confirm a secretary of Homeland Security, one who is ready to lead on Day 1,” Trump said. “Kirstjen has my full faith and confidence, and she also has the complete confidence of the law enforcement officers, dedicated professionals and senior leadership at the Department of Homeland Security.”
Nielsen served as Kelly’s top aide during his time at the agency and became his deputy chief of staff when he joined the West Wing as chief of staff this summer.
Kelly “would be the first to tell you she was critical to his success,” Trump said. “There she quickly reinforced a sterling reputation as a dedicated leader whose No. 1 priority is always the safety and security of our country and the citizens. Not politics.”
“There will be no on the job training for Kirstjen,” he said.
Nielsen will head the agency as it looks to fulfill Trump’s campaign promises on immigration, including building a border wall with Mexico, and as it aids in the recovery efforts of U.S. territories and states hit by hurricanes in recent months.
Nielsen’ background includes an expertise in cybersecurity and homeland security, including stints at the Transportation Security Administration and on the White House homeland security council under President George W. Bush. Her selection was reported first by POLITICO on Wednesday.
“We’ll be sad to see this incredible woman leave the White House,” he said, noting that first lady Melania Trump has gotten to know Nielsen and that she “was disappointed to hear this news.”