/Will Donald Trump fire Claire Grady? By law acting deputy secretary is next in line for Nielsen job

Will Donald Trump fire Claire Grady? By law acting deputy secretary is next in line for Nielsen job

President Donald Trump may be preparing to push another senior official out of the Department of Homeland Security to allow Kevin McAleenan—the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection—to take over as acting secretary of the agency.

The DHS shake-up began with the resignation—reportedly at the president’s request—of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who had held the position since December 2017.

Trump tweeted that McAleenan would become her acting replacement, and declared on Twitter, “I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!” But by law Nielsen’s responsibilities must pass to DHS under secretary for management, Claire Grady, The New York Times reported.

Grady has been working as under secretary since August 2017. Brady has also become acting deputy secretary at DHS, taking over the responsibilities of the vacant position. Before this, she had worked in procurement and acquisition at the Department of Defense and in other positions at DHS.

But she is reportedly not willing to make life easy for the president. According to anonymous colleagues quoted by the Times, Grady said she has no intention of stepping aside to clear a path for McAleenan to take over Nielsen’s job. As such, the president could be forced to push Grady out.

Once Trump manages to install McAleenan, the 47 year old will be tasked with implementing a tougher approach to border security, something Trump reportedly believed Nielsen was unable or unwilling to do. CBS News reported that her Sunday meeting with the president was widely expected to mark the end of her DHS tenure, during which time she faced regular criticism from Trump over a perceived lack of action on immigration.

While under attack from the White House, Nielsen was also forced to defend Trump’s zero-tolerance border policy which led to thousands of migrant children being separated from their families. She became a focus for attacks from those opposing the contentious strategy, which has left tens of thousands of families split up and officials struggling to reunite them.

Last month, Nielsen defended the family separation policy, telling the House Homeland Security Committee “we don’t use cages for children.” And earlier this year, Democratic Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley formally requested an FBI investigation into whether Nielsen lied to Congress under oath in December, telling lawmakers the DHS has “never had a policy for family separation.”

But all this was not enough for Trump, who still believed Nielsen was soft on immigration. The president blamed her for a recent spike in the number of migrants arriving at the U.S. border from Central America, which Trump described as “a colossal surge.”

McAleenan made his own public intervention amid the arrivals, suggesting the U.S. immigration system had reached “breaking point.” Such cataclysmic rhetoric echoes the president’s bombast, and will likely play well with Trump as he continues to use migration to energize his base.

Claire Grady Donald Trump fired

DHS Under Secretary for Management Claire Grady is pictured with colleagues during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee round table in Washington, D.C. on February 7, 2018. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

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