Oct 11, 2017, 5:33 PM ET

Trump nominates Kirstjen Nielsen as homeland security secretary

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President Donald Trump nominated Kirstjen Nielsen as homeland security secretary on Wednesday.

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Nielsen previously served at the Department of Homeland Security as the chief of staff for John Kelly before he left to become the White House chief of staff. She followed him to the White House, where she has worked as an assistant to the president and the principal deputy chief of staff since early September.

"Ms. Nielsen has extensive professional experience in the areas of homeland security policy and strategy, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure, and emergency management," read a statement from the White House, which also noted that "she is the first nominee for this position to have previously worked within the Department of Homeland Security."

According to a senior administration official, Nielsen knows the department across the board from her time as chief of staff under Kelly and won’t need much time to adjust to the new position.

Kelly served as DHS secretary for just over six months before the resignation of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus in late July. White House aides familiar with Nielsen's work told ABC News that she was viewed as one of Kelly's enforcers — someone who brought structure to the day-to-day operations at the White House, though some were frustrated by her direct style and role in limiting access to meetings and the Oval Office.

After Kelly's move, Elaine Duke was named acting DHS secretary and has coordinated the department's efforts in the wake of three major hurricanes, the largest mass shooting in modern American history and an ongoing debate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

Duke was criticized in September when she described Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico — where a large majority of the population still lacks electricity — as a "good news story." After an uproar over her comments, including from the mayor of San Juan, the territory's capital, Duke said that she was "proud" of the response but that the situation on the island was still "not satisfactory."

Around that time, two sources familiar with the search for a permanent DHS secretary told ABC News that the effort was back at "square one," though Trump said a decision was coming within a month. Sources at the time were not aware of particular contenders for the role but said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, was nearly hired before Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others objected to what they believed was McCaul's insufficiently hard-line stance on immigration.

Early reports of Nielsen's expected nomination drew praise from at least some homeland security circles in Washington, D.C. Andrew Howell, a lobbyist with Monument Policy Group who has worked with Nielsen on a range of homeland security policy matters, said she knows the department "top to bottom," which will ease her transition.

"She has particularly strong expertise on a huge issue facing our nation – cyber security – which differentiates her from any prior Secretary," Howell told ABC News.

Before Nielsen's work for the current administration, she consulted on homeland security and preparedness matters, according to her biography on the website for George Washington University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, where she was a senior fellow.

She previously served as special assistant to the president for prevention, preparedness and response on the White House Homeland Security Council under President George W. Bush and launched the Offices of Legislative Policy and Government Affairs at the Transportation Security Administration.

ABC News' Mike Levine, Geneva Sands, Alexander Mallin, Justin Fishel and Adam Kelsey contributed to this report.

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  • todd007

    Never served...........never stood a post...........no weapons experience.........brassy sassy college educated director. As an appointed director, it is all about the show. God help us when the bullets fly.

  • JBUGGY

    She's a dud

  • Robulator

    War on women continues (sarcasm). At least she has experience unlike Jeh Johnson whom was a complete failure

  • pksk531

    I have a feeling Kelly is putting his ducks in a row and getting his people in key posts to counter the Nut job in chief.

  • Jrducky

    Working in the Bush Administration, is not a great endorsement!

  • FarmFamily

    Is she corrupt enough for the Trump Administration?

  • Blaize Rage

    Why not nominate the acting Director of Homeland Security?

  • Bill S

    Another promising career flush down the toilet.

  • Mark

    Poor woman just signed up for passage on the Titanic.

  • David

    You first read her bio and think she's got some moxie and brains, then you read on and find out she's just another swamp creature who's made a living off the taxpayers as a consultant. which usually means she knows someone and gets fat contracts for little or no labor.

  • StillThatSameGuy

    Hm.. Thought it was going to be Frankenberry

  • Devliz_Tower

    The article suggested that she brought structure to the WH.

    I laughed out loud when I read that part.

  • Pi_Boson

    Nielsen was a key failure point in Hurricane Katrina logistics debacle. It appears Nielsen will be another member of the growing Dotard kakistocracy and I am sure that Nielsen will further compliment the miserable failures of Dotard.

  • Bev Guyer

    So the Dotard appoints another one of his best and brightest! What are her qualifications? She's cute and was Ivanka's college roommate?

  • Happytown6565

    I would be scared if I was her, Hope Hicks got the permanent job of Communication directors and has not been heard from or seen since,

  • John

    The fact that she is despised by many in the inner circle is a good thing. Best of luck to her.

  • stamped human bacon

    I hear OJ is available.

  • Betty Bloop

    knowing that jeff sessions was involved in this makes me suspicious.

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    Just what our country needs. Another Trump appointee who will abuse her position and will incur travel expenses ten times what they should be.

    Taking advantage of taxpayers must be the main expertise that Trump looks for. After they pledge undying loyalty to him of course. With Trump's track record, she better not quit her Day Job.

  • 40words

    I don't trust her.

  • b rubble

    Ooh. Trump's endorsement. LOL 😂

  • Radford Bean

    What's her qualifications? Oh, wait. Blonde with a sexy pair of legs. That makes her qualified.

  • krussell25

    With a name like Kirstjen, I wonder if she speaks Russian.

  • realitycheck

    I am told she is really good at changing elderly people diapers.

  • John Galt

    Well by the time they are going through confirmation process, we will all have to get our news from Breibart or Faux news since Trump plans on shutting down all the other media channels.

  • Derek Belik

    Bring on the Trump haters!

  • ceptic

    I've heard she is also a Geriatric Psychiatrist. The Security of Our Homeland must begin at home in the White House.

  • 20 Yr Retired Military

    I assume there will be groping

  • nomoreGOP

    You just killed me...lmao...

  • Pi_Boson

    Nielsen will fit right in as she was a key failure in the Hurrican Katrina debacle, part of the miserable failure root cause. She has clearly demonstrated she is great at failing!!! Just another Dotard kakistocracy member.

  • empirewacksback

    Her bio makes seem like she can talk sassy with the best of em and if he wants her around, she must have a nice butt.

  • guy5517

    Poor girl. I guess Don couldnt find anyone else from outside to take the position. Good luck to her!

  • Puddin' Twain

    Welcome to the grope... er, group.