WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump was expected to nominate Kirstjen Nielsen, who as the top aide to his White House chief of staff has sought to instil order in Trump s team, to lead the U.S . Department of Homeland Security, a White House official said on Wednesday.
If confirmed by the Senate, Nielsen would take the reins at a sprawling department with more than 240,000 employees that is responsible for U.S . border and airport security, immigration policy, disaster response, refugee admissions and other matters.
Nielsen, 45, is a cybersecurity expert with a considerable resume in homeland security that includes work at the department s Transportation Security Administration and on Republican former President George W .
Bush s White House Homeland Security Council.
Nielsen was retired Marine Corps General John Kelly s chief of staff when he was secretary of Homeland Security during the opening months of Trump s presidency . Kelly brought her to the White House as his deputy when Trump named him chief of staff in July to replace Reince Priebus after only six months on the job.
The official announcement of her nomination could come as early as later on Wednesday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity . The nomination requires Senate confirmation.
Nielsen s departure from the White House would mark the latest upheaval in Trump s White House team . She was responsible for carrying out some of Kelly s orders on who gets access to the president . As a result, she has irritated some White House officials who now have limited contact with Trump.
Kelly has sought to bring more order to the chaotic West Wing since replacing Priebus . Trump has welcomed the changes to some extent, although he has privately confided to friends that the limitations on access to the Oval Office sometimes go too far.
Putting Nielsen into the Homeland Security post will allow Trump and Kelly to keep a close eye on the department, but getting her out of the White House could permit some relaxing of Kelly s strictness.
Cyber security is one of the primary issues under the Homeland Security Department s sprawling portfolio . Nielsen previously worked at a cyber think tank at George Washington University, blocks from the White House, and is considered well-versed in some of the more technical missions at the department, such as sharing cyber threat information with the private sector.
The department was created after the Sept .
11, 2001, attacks on the United States exposed cracks in the country s homeland security apparatus.
The appointment comes at a busy time for the department, with one of its agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, overseeing disaster relief in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida as well as wildfire-ravaged areas of California . The department also is responsible for U.S . border security.
The department is a major player in implementing Trump s aggressive stance toward deporting illegal immigrants, as well as vetting the lower number of refugees Trump has decided to allow into the United States.
It seems like a low-drama pick .
It s a little concerning that she seems to have little background in immigration security and policy, but those individual agencies are in good hands already, and there is a strong core of career managers, said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, which favours more limits on immigration.
Politico first reported the appointment.
Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, Dustin Volz and Doina Chiacu; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by James Dalgleish
British experts have met to assess w hether the Russian airliner crash in Egypt should force any change in UK security plans and travel advice amid speculation a bomb may have brought the plane down.
Prime Minister David Cameron said people should not stop flying to the popular Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh despite claims by airline Metrojet that its aircraft was brought down by an “external impact”. Investigations continue into what caused the Airbus A321-200 to crash into the Sinai desert on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board. British military analyst Paul Beaver said he thought the crash was most likely caused by a bomb on board.
He said he was certain Islamic State – who initially claimed responsibility for the crash – do not possess a missile system capable of hitting the plane. He said: “I’m pretty convinced that Isis (IS) doesn’t have a ‘double-digit’ SAM (surface-to-air missile) that is necessary to go up as far as 31,000 feet. “That’s a very serious piece of equipment, and I don’t think they have that sophistication.”
He also said the Sinai desert is well-scrutinised by intelligence agencies, so a missile would have been seen. His comments came after Alexander Smirnov, the deputy general director of Russian airline Kogalymavia – also known as Metrojet – ruled out a technical fault with the plane. There had been no distress call or contact with air traffic control in the run-up to the crash, he said.
He told a news conference: “There are no such things as engine failure or other defects that could lead to an aircraft breaking apart in mid-air. “Sometimes a few system failures and additional factors could end in a crash. “But the damage would be during impact on the ground and not in mid-air.
In theory, it is possible that it could break apart after an overloading. “But there are safety systems that would prevent airplanes from going (in the air) under huge pressure. And the only reasonable explanation was that it was some external influence.”
Mr Cameron said security officials were “looking very carefully” at whether there was any ongoing safety risk posed by the incident. Around 900,000 Britons visit Egypt every year, and any change about security information would not be based on “speculation” about the causes, he told ITV. Mr Cameron, who spoke yesterday with Russian president Vladimir Putin about the crash, added: “If anything changes, we don’t sit around and chew our pens and not act.
If anything changes it will be announced very quickly. “But as I say we must do it on the basis of evidence and not on speculation.” Emergency workers and aviation experts continue to comb debris spread over a wide area for clues and the black box flight recorders are said to have been recovered in good condition.
Downing Street said the meeting of officials was aimed at assessing the available information about the crash. The Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman said: ” This was basically a meeting of officials from across Whitehall to discuss what we know about what has happened in the Russian plane tragedy and whether there is anything we should learn from it.” She added: “That’s the type of thing people would expect the Government to do when they see a passenger jet come down.”
Officials always kept travel advice under review, she added, but the meeting was ” more about establishing what we know so far and thinking about it moving forward”.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has launched an investigation into a senior Sussex police officer and another officer following allegations about their behaviour while off-duty.
The senior officer has been notified the IPCC is considering criminal matters in relation to the offences for public order offences while his colleague is being investigated for accessing computer records following the incident.
A complaint has been made that on September 5, the two officers became argumentative with two different taxi drivers in Eastbourne.
One officer is alleged to have made threats to have the taxi licence removed from one of the drivers and during the taxi ride home it is alleged that the senior officer made racist and offensive remarks to the driver.
The taxi driver then complained to Sussex Police who referred it to the IPCC.
Sussex Police has suspended the officer with allegations of racist and offensive behaviour against him for the duration of the investigation, owing to his seniority and the seriousness of the alleged offences.
The investigation will also consider the alleged accessing of police information by the one of the officers following the incident.
The more junior officer of the pair has been notified that the IPCC is considering criminal matters in relation to offences committed under the Data Protection Act and the Computer Misuse Act, and is also under investigation for failing to adequately challenge and report the improper conduct of the other officer.
IPCC Commissioner Jennifer Izekor said: That a senior officer has been accused of such serious and criminal misconduct in a public setting and racist behaviour towards a member of the public is of significant concern and it is therefore appropriate that the IPCC provides independent oversight of this investigation.
Deputy Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said: “We take any report of racism very seriously, along with any inappropriate access to police IT systems and we will co-operate with the IPCC in their investigation.
“Sussex Police cares about developing and has invested in building its relationship with BME communities, through its neighbourhood policing teams and support from an independent Race Advisory Group.
“We remain fully committed to providing a fair and non-discriminatory policing service to our communities.”