Texarkana, TX 73° View Live Radar Wed H 80° L 51° Thu H 81° L 54° Fri H 80° L 63° Weather Sponsored By:

Trump: DHS nominee needs 'no on-the-job training'

Trump: DHS nominee needs 'no on-the-job training'

October 13th, 2017 by Associated Press in National News

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump on Thursday introduced his choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, a former staffer at the sprawling post-9/11 federal agency who he says will need "no on-the-job training" for the lead role.

Trump also called on Congress to "put politics aside" and confirm deputy White House chief of staff Kirstjen Nielsen by a "strong, bipartisan vote."

But even before Trump had formally announced Nielsen's appointment during an East Room ceremony attended by much of the Cabinet and senior members of the White House staff, at least one congressional Democrat said her role during Hurricane Katrina should be scrutinized.

The Senate must confirm Nielsen's nomination.

"There will be no on-the-job training for Kirsten. She is ready on Day One," Trump said, essentially declaring her fit to begin serving, if not for the Senate. Elaine Duke has led the department in an acting capacity through recent destructive hurricanes in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"In light of the serious threats facing our country, and the urgent disaster recovery efforts, I call upon the Senate to put politics aside and confirm this tremendously qualified and talented nominee with a strong bipartisan vote," Trump said.

Nielsen told the president she was "humbled by the trust you are placing in me." She stands to become the sixth secretary of the department, which was created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Nielsen had been chief of staff to John Kelly when he was Trump's first homeland security secretary. Kelly brought her to the White House after Trump named him chief of staff in late July, and Trump quickly tapped Nielsen to be Kelly's deputy.

An expert in homeland security and national security policy, Nielsen previously served as a special assistant to President George W. Bush and worked for the Transportation Security Administration. She's also the first nominee to have worked for the department, the White House said.

In a nod to the critical role that Homeland Security has played during the government's response to the recent hurricanes, Nielsen pledged Thursday that the agency will "remain engaged" in storm recovery efforts for the long term.

Her commitment came hours after Trump had questioned the government's presence in Puerto Rico, tweeting that "we cannot keep" federal emergency management and military workers in "P.R. forever!" Trump has touted his administration's response to a season of devastating storms, but critics have questioned the pace of support in Puerto Rico, which remains largely without electricity more than three weeks after taking a blow from Hurricane Maria.

Nielsen's own involvement in hurricane planning and response came under harsh scrutiny a decade ago during congressional examinations of the Bush administration's performance after Hurricane Katrina struck southern Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005. Nielsen at the time was a key Bush administration official in the chain of command, working as senior director for preparedness and response with the White House's Homeland Security Council.

Reports issued two years later by the Senate and the House were highly critical of the Bush administration's handling of Katrina. The reports did not specifically impugn Nielsen's performance, but both faulted the council for failing to take the lead in staying on top of the unfolding disaster.

At least one Democratic congressman said the Senate should scrutinize Nielsen's role during Katrina.

"I am very concerned about her past work in the Bush administration during its botched response to Hurricane Katrina," said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss. Thompson said he worried that the Trump administration "has not learned all the lessons from that tragedy, given what we are seeing in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands."

Nielsen was replaced in the Bush White House in 2007 by Thomas Bossert, now Trump's homeland security adviser.

In recent years, she headed a private consulting firm, Sunesis Consulting Group, which was awarded more than $900,000 in government contracts since 2008, including more than $600,000 from the Homeland Security Department, federal contracting documents show.

She was general counsel at Civitas Group LLC, another consulting group that worked with Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the General Services Administration. The firm earned more than $3.4 million in government contracts between 2008 and 2013, according to federal records.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com