Andrew Harnik | AP
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Deputy Chief of Staff Kirstjen Nielsen speak together as they walk across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Aug. 22, 2017.
President Donald Trump has chosen Kirstjen Nielsen to lead the Department of Homeland Security, the White House said Wednesday.
Nielsen currently is the principal deputy to White House chief of staff John Kelly. She was Kelly’s chief of staff when he was DHS secretary, and moved to the White House with the former Marine Corps general in July.
She will have to get confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate.
“Ms. Nielsen has extensive professional experience in the areas of homeland security policy and strategy, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure, and emergency management,” the White House said in a statement. “She is the first nominee for this position to have previously worked within the Department of Homeland Security.”
The White House said Nielsen previously served as a senior legislative policy director at the Transportation Security Administration. She was also on the White House Homeland Security Council during President George W. Bush’s tenure.
The department has not had a Trump-appointed secretary since Kelly joined the White House. In that time, it has faced hurricanes that battered Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
Nielsen was a major part of Kelly’s push to crack down on the information and people that reach the president. As chief of staff, he more carefully vets news reports that the president reads and controls the officials or visitors who can talk to Trump.