Kirstjen Nielsen leaving position as homeland security secretary

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By Alex Johnson, Hans Nichols, Julia Ainsley and Carol E. Lee

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned on Sunday after mounting frustration by President Donald Trump over his administration’s failure to stop the flow of migrants into the country.

Trump announced the resignation on Twitter, and Nielsen issued a resignation letter a few minutes later.

Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, will become acting secretary pending confirmation of Nielsen’s successor, Trump said. Nielsen said Sunday night on Twitter that she would stay until Wednesday to help with the transition.

As recently as last week, Nielsen was busily announcing plans to reassign hundreds of Customs and Border Protection agents to the southern border to “address the influx of migrants” in certain areas.

But Nielsen, 46, has suffered from tepid support within the administration, taking public responsibility for Trump’s deeply divisive anti-immigration policies.

Nielsen said in her resignation letter that she was proud of her tenure at Homeland Secretary, asserting that “our homeland is safer today than when I joined the administration.”

But “I hope that the next secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws that have impeded our ability to fully secure America’s borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation’s discourse,” she said.


Her departure comes just two days after she and Trump visited the U.S. border with Mexico and three days after the president withdrew his nomination of Ronald Vitiello to be the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The president was frustrated with Nielsen’s tenure as secretary and accepted her resignation after a meeting at the White House on Sunday night, according to two people familiar with the matter, one of them a senior U.S. official and the other a person who is close to Nielsen.

The frustration, which had been mounting for weeks, was mutual, according to the person close to Nielsen. Their poor relationship was exacerbated by Trump’s failure to consult with her on his decision to withdraw Vitiello’s nomination, according to the person.

The president gave Nielsen the opportunity to resign, but he clearly wanted her to leave, according to a third person familiar with the matter.

Before the announcement, Fox News’ anchors had persistently called for her resignation, claiming that she was ineffective and needed to leave.