President Trump has had it with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and plans to fire her as soon as John Kelly allows it, the Washington Post reports. Nielsen’s predecessor and her longtime champion, Kelly is the only thing standing in Trump’s way at this point. The Post reports that he’s “fighting Nielsen’s pending dismissal and attempting to postpone it,” but Kelly may not have sway much longer since his “future in the administration also is shaky.”
Nielsen has been on the job since December and she and Trump have had their tense moments in the 11 months since she was confirmed. But their relationship has reportedly soured even more recently as Trump has grown dissatisfied with her inability to enforce his immigration priorities.
Trump canceled a planned trip with Nielsen this week to visit U.S. troops at the border in South Texas and told aides over the weekend he wants her out as soon as possible, these officials said. The president has grumbled for months about what he views as Nielsen’s lackluster performance on immigration enforcement and is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his policy ideas with more alacrity.
Trump has reportedly taken to calling Nielsen a “Bushie,” a pejorative referencing her time spent in George W. Bush’s administration. He’s also “grown impatient and frustrated” with her when she tells him his impractical and illegal ideas for border security cannot be implemented.
This isn’t the first sign of turmoil between these two. Earlier this summer, Nielsen nearly quit after Trump chewed her out during a Cabinet meeting, the Times reported at the time. She was so upset that she drafted a letter of resignation. She never submitted it though and stayed on at DHS to oversee one of the darkest periods of Trump’s presidency — the forced separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
There’s little certainly around who would take over for Nielsen should she get canned. As the Post notes, there hasn’t been a DHS deputy secretary since February. That means the likeliest replacements would come from further down the ladder in DHS. Last week Politico mentioned that Trump has a favorite from outside his administration though — Kansas secretary of State Kris Kobach, who lost out on the gig back in 2016. Problem is, Trump knows the anti-immigrant crusader is not well-liked in Washington, D.C. And even a Senate that routinely kowtows to Trump might not confirm the man who was ordered this summer to take law classes after embarrassing himself in federal court.