Local

WHITE HOUSE DRAMA: President Trump Mulls Wide-Ranging Cabinet Shake-Up

President Donald Trump is weighing an administration-wide shake-up as he looks to prepare his White House for divided government, but it is unclear who is going and who is staying.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was thought to be out as soon as this week, according to two people with knowledge of the issue, but she is now likely to remain in the post for a longer period because there is no obvious successor in place.

Trump has soured on Nielsen and White House chief of staff John Kelly, in part over frustration that his administration is not doing more to address what he has called a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the people. But the scope of the contemplated changes is far broader, as Trump gears up for a wave of Democratic oversight requests and to devote more effort to his own re-election campaign.

According to people familiar with the situation, Trump is also discussing replacing Kelly with Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers. Kelly, a retired Marine general, has been credited with bringing order and process to a chaotic West Wing, but he has fallen out of favor with the president as well as presidential daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Ayers, a seasoned campaign operative, would restore a political-mindset to the role, but he faces stiff opposition from some corners of the West Wing, with some aides lobbying Trump directly against the move.

Other changes are afoot, as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are being discussed for replacement. And in an extraordinary move Tuesday, first lady Melania Trump’s office called publicly for the firing of Trump’s deputy national security adviser, Mira Ricardel.

For all of the talk of churn, Trump often expresses frustration with aides and then does not take action. Talk of Kelly’s exit has percolated for months and he remains in place.

Nielsen had hoped to complete one year in the job and leave in December, but it appeared unlikely she would last that long, said two sources. Both people who had knowledge of the debate spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Curbing illegal immigration is Trump’s signature issue — and one he returns to as a way to rally his most loyal supporters.

But anyone who takes over at Homeland Security is likely to run up against the same problems that Nielsen faced. The administration has already tried to clamp down at the border but those efforts have been largely thwarted or watered down due to legal challenges.

Trump also told allies that he never fully trusted Nielsen, whom he associated with President George W. Bush, a longtime foe. And he told those close to him that he felt, at times, that her loyalty was more toward her longtime mentor — Kelly — than to the president.

Zinke, who faces several ethics investigations, said in interview with The Associated Press on Monday that he has spoken in recent days with Trump, Pence and Kelly about probes into his leadership and they remain supportive. He denied any wrongdoing.

Ross addressed turnover rumors at a Yahoo! Finance summit Tuesday, saying he was in the post to give back to the country and support Trump.

“I worked very hard to get President Trump elected,” he said. “Now I’d like to work equally hard to have him succeed and be re-elected.”

Questions about Nielsen’s job security are not new. Earlier this year, she pushed back on a New York Times report that she drafted a resignation letter but did not submit it, after Trump scolded her at a Cabinet meeting.

Nielsen has led the sprawling post-9/11 federal agency since December. She had been chief of staff to Kelly when he was Trump’s first Homeland Security secretary. A DHS spokesman would not comment on whether she was leaving.

“The secretary is honored to lead the men and women of DHS and is committed to implementing the president’s security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so,” spokesman Tyler Houlton said.

Nielsen advocated for strong cybersecurity defense, and often said she believed the next terror major attack would occur online — not by planes or bombs. She was tasked with helping states secure elections following interference by Russians during the 2016 election.

She pushed Trump’s immigration policies, including funding for his border wall and defended the administration’s practice of separating children from parents, telling a Senate committee that removing children from parents facing criminal charges happens “in the United States every day.” But she was also instrumental in stopping the separations.

Just last week, the administration announced that migrants would be denied asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border if they crossed illegally, creating regulations that circumvent immigration laws stating anyone can claim asylum no matter how they arrive to the country. The decision would affect about 70,000 people annually and was immediately challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Nielsen also moved to abandon longstanding regulations that dictate how long children are allowed to be held in immigration detention, and requested bed space from the U.S. military for some 12,000 people in an effort to detain all families who cross the border. Right now there is space for about 3,000 families and they are at capacity.

She got into heated discussions with Trump and White House aides several times over immigration policy, as she sought to explain the complicated legal challenges behind immigration law and pushed for a more diplomatic approach.

It’s unclear who would replace her. The job requires Senate confirmation and there is no deputy secretary. Under Secretary for Management Claire Grady would be the acting head if Nielsen left.

(AP)

Click to add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Local

More in Local

82af83951308074655262134f9886a35.jpg

Judge Sets Court Date For Ex-Trump Campaign Chair Manafort

adminDecember 10, 2018
b1dac0618a824e64601ac72456d1788c.jpg

Reports: UK Prime Minister To Delay Brexit Vote; Pound Sinks

adminDecember 10, 2018
12890d70c328a478fa21326716ba042f.jpg

Will Israel Be Able To Shoot Down Rockets With Lasers?

adminDecember 10, 2018
57653297c311cab6994baa9ab16e1671.jpg

HOW NYS BLATANTLY LIED: New York State Promised Yeshivas STEM Funding, Instead They Gave Them Regulations

adminDecember 10, 2018
495d49d909ba551514e597d73483204d.jpg

France Fears More Riots; Museums, Eiffel Tower To Close

adminDecember 7, 2018
7fa6a9915d51f24975afb650e50eef95.jpg

NYPD Officer Faces May Trial In Eric Garner Chokehold Death

adminDecember 7, 2018
1546af75bdcb6ecc364d411ac5f0c86d.jpg

Palestinian Court Extends Detention Of Palestinian-American

adminDecember 6, 2018
9ce004b2b7ccd2590f79219aa8714147.jpg

Israel Calls For International Response To Hezbollah Tunnels

adminDecember 6, 2018
a1e80b9f33f995d3440a57aa54d756b3.jpg

THROWBACK: When The ‘Fake News’ Reported Bush Was ‘Amazed’ By Supermarket Barcode Scanner Technology

adminDecember 6, 2018