WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday his intention to nominate cybersecurity expert Kirstjen Nielsen as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the White House said in a statement.
Trump’s choice of Nielsen comes more than two months after he made the previous head of that agency, John Kelly, his chief of staff.
Nielsen has been serving as White House principal deputy chief of staff, Kelly’s top aide, a role in which she has sought to streamline the government’s operations and has ruffled some feathers in her attempt to impose discipline on a scandal-racked White House.
“Ms. Nielsen has extensive professional experience in the areas of homeland security policy and strategy, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure and emergency management,” the White House statement read.
“She is the first nominee for this position to have previously worked within the Department of Homeland Security, having served there in two administrations, first as senior legislative policy director for Transportation and Security Administration under President George W. Bush and then as Department of Homeland Security Chief of Staff under President Trump,” it added.
The acting homeland security secretary, Elaine Duke, sparked controversy when she said the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where 43 people have died as a result of the Category 4 storm, had been a “good news story.”
If Nielsen is nominated by Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate would need to confirm her by a simple majority.