Trump taps Kelly deputy and cybersecurity expert Kirstjen Nielsen for DHS secretary

Kirstjen Nielsen (World Economic Forum / Flickr)


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The White House will nominate Kirstjen Nielsen to head the Department of Homeland Security, a senior U.S. government official confirmed to FedScoop Wednesday.

The confirmation comes after Politico first reported that Nielsen was “expected” to be nominated by President Trump for the post.

Nielsen served as DHS chief of staff to former Secretary John Kelly until he was moved to the White House in July to be President Trump’s chief of staff, and she followed him there as his principal deputy chief of staff.

After Kelly’s move, the Cabinet-level DHS secretary position has gone unfilled, with Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke serving in the interim.

The White House hasn’t made an official announcement on Nielsen’s nomination as of publication.

If confirmed, Nielsen would bring extensive cybersecurity background to DHS, which would be a boon for DHS’s evolving cybersecurity mission. Prior to serving the Trump administration, she spent time on the White Hose National Security Council under President George W. Bush and as a senior fellow and member of the Resilience Task Force for George Washington University’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security think tank.

It’s reported that Nielsen’s appointment came after Kelly gave her a shining recommendation.

CyberScoop reporter Chris Bing contributed to the report. 

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Department of Homeland Security (DHS), John Kelly, Kirstjen Nielsen