Trump’s Pick for Homeland Security Chief Is a No-Nonsense Enforcer—and Jeb Bush Donor

Kirstjen Nielsen serves as the deputy to former DHS secretary and current White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

President Donald Trump is expected to pick Kirstjen Nielsen, above, to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Alex Brandon/AP

President Donald Trump is expected to pick Kirstjen Nielsen, a no-nonsense cybersecurity expert, to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Politico reports. Nielsen works as the deputy to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and served as Kelly’s deputy at DHS before he left for the White House in July.

Nielsen, an attorney, previously worked at the White House Homeland Security Council and the Transportation Security Administration under President George W. Bush.

Unlike many of Trump’s picks, Nielsen already knows the department she is likely to run. “She would be the first person to run the department who has actually worked there,” a source close to the administration told Politico. “She has a deep familiarity.”

Nielsen’s current role as Kelly’s deputy, and chief enforcer, has caused tension in the White House. Her tough tone was seen as “dismissive and lacking in collegiality,” according to more than 10 administration officials interviewed by Politico in September. But that approach has been credited with bringing a semblance of order to Trump’s White House.

At DHS, Nielsen was accused of boxing out Trump loyalists. Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidante, said in September that “she actively ensured that no Trump supporters were appointed or hired.” Stone went to say, “Like [national security adviser H.R.] McMaster and Kelly, she is a neocon who likely did not vote for Donald Trump and certainly does not support his non-interventionist worldview. If the president fails, it will be because of appointments like this.”

Before Trump entered the presidential race, Nielsen donated $2,500 to a super-PAC that supported Jeb Bush, according to Federal Election Commission records.


We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.