A Department of Homeland Security spokesman poured cold water on a report claiming its chief almost resigned after an angry outburst by President Trump.
According to The New York Times, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen almost resigned Wednesday after a heated argument in which Trump allegedly berated her during a Cabinet meeting focused on immigration.
Nielsen reportedly told colleagues that she was close to resigning after the incident and had already drafted a resignation letter, the Times said, citing “several current and former officials familiar with the episode.”
According to The New York Times report:
Mr. Trump’s anger toward Ms. Nielsen, who was sitting several seats to his left at the meeting, was part of a lengthy tirade in which the president railed at his cabinet about what he said was its lack of progress toward sealing the country’s borders against illegal immigrants, according to one person who was present at the meeting.
But DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton called the claims “false.”
The @nytimes article alleging that the Secretary drafted a resignation letter yesterday and was close to resigning is false. The Secretary is hard at work today on the President’s security-focused agenda and supporting the men and women of @DHSgov.
— Tyler Q. Houlton (@SpoxDHS) May 10, 2018
Nielsen issued a statement of her own, agreeing with Trump’s frustration and blaming the border issue in part on “congressional inaction.”
“The President is rightly frustrated that existing loopholes and the lack of congressional action have prevented this administration from fully securing the border and protecting the American people. I share his frustration,” Nielsen said, according to CNN. “Border security is the most basic and necessary responsibility of a sovereign nation. These are complex issues and I will continue to direct the Department to do all we can to implement the President’s security-focused agenda.”
Nielsen, who was chief of staff for John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, oversees the 20,000 employees who work for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Times report claimed that she was “miserable” in her job according to a “person close to Ms. Nielsen.”
Trump’s outburst was not only aimed at Nielsen, according to the Times, but the entire cabinet for not making enough progress in stopping illegal immigration and ensuring border security.
According to CNN:
Trump was furious with Nielsen, telling her he didn’t think she was doing enough to secure the border. But Nielsen stood her ground, citing the law in certain instances, the source said.
A separate White House official confirmed that Trump exploded over immigration in front of the Cabinet. The official described the remarks as “angry and heated” but also as fairly typical for Trump on this issue.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about the incident in Thursday’s press briefing.
“The President is committed to fixing our broken immigration system and our porous borders. We are a country of laws and the president and his administration will enforce them,” she responded.
Illegal border crossings dropped to the lowest levels in decades during Trump’s first year in office but have increased recently, more than tripling in April 2018 in comparison to April 2017 according to a Customs and Border Patrol report.
“We’ve very much toughened up the border, but the laws are horrible,” Trump told reporters before Wednesday’s meeting, according to the Times. “The laws in this country for immigration and illegal immigration are absolutely horrible. And we have to do something about it.”
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