Gone Girl

Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, has left the room. As usual, Trump announced her departure, effective Wednesday, in a tweet on Sunday. She was summoned to the White House in the morning to meet with Trump over plans for “a way forward” over the Trump created border crisis. Instead she was asked to resign, in other words, she was fired. Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, will become acting secretary pending confirmation of Nielsen’s successor. Any bets that this time next year he’ll still be “acting director”? Trump seems to like that title.

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. [..]

She has also faced fierce criticism from within and outside the department, which is the subject of numerous House subpoenas and more than 20 investigations by the agency’s own inspector general. [..]

Nielsen has run Homeland Security, the federal government’s third-largest department, without a deputy ever since she succeeded John Kelly as secretary in December 2017 after Kelly became White House chief of staff.

Trump has expressed his frustration with the situation on the border for months, at times threatening to shut down all points of entry with Mexico and demanding that both the Mexican government and Congress do more to solve with the president persistently calls a “crisis.” [..]

McAleenan, who was confirmed as head of CBP in March 2018, was deputy commissioner of the bureau, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, during President Barack Obama’s administration.

His confirmation to head CBP was delayed for more than three months as allegations emerged that anonymous accusers had alleged that McAleenan had an affair with a subordinate and bypassed proper channels to fund an immigration detention center. DHS’ inspector general cleared him of wrongdoing at the time.

CBP came under investigation by the House Homeland Security Committee last month after NBC News and NBC San Diego reported that it had compiled a list of 59 reporters, lawyers and activists, most of them U.S. citizens, who were to be stopped for questioning crossing the U.S.-Mexican border at San Diego-area checkpoints. At least 21 of them have been stopped and questioned or arrested.

I quite sure Trump will find someone with the appropriate reprehensible resume to replace her