0313 GMT August 20, 2018
Kirstjen Nielsen, a veteran security expert and currently serving as US secretary of homeland security, drafted a resignation letter after President Trump ranted against her in front of all other cabinet members in a meeting on Wednesday, The New York Times reported on Thursday, citing several former and current US officials, presstv.com reported.
Nielsen, who after the meeting told her colleagues she was about to resign, did not submit the resignation letter, however, according to the report.
Later, she said in a public statement that she intended to “continue to direct the department” and address Trump’s border security concerns, which were the reason for the rebuke in the Wednesday meeting.
It was not clear what changed her mind. A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department later disputed the account that Nielsen was about to resign.
Trump, known for his oft-repeated tirades about illegal immigrants from Mexico, has blamed the Homeland Security Department for its failure to secure the long, porous border. The department oversees the Immigration and Customs Enforcement federal agency.
The US president has promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico and has formerly called the illegal immigrants from that country “rapists” and “murderers.”
But President Trump is also known for publicly rebuking his top aides, which has in the past led to the departure of some high-ranking figures.
Back in October last year, Trump undercut his then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — who had hoped for new dialog with North Korea — by saying Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” a derogatory reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
That episode passed, and when Tillerson later resigned over mounting disagreements with Trump, the president’s new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, did just what his predecessor had attempted to do and had been derided for: he reached out to Pyongyang.
Tillerson was only one of a cast of many characters who have departed the Trump White House after serving short periods of time in high posts. High-profile departures have included those of former chief strategist Steve Bannon, ex-National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, former communications directors Anthony Scaramucci and Hope Hicks, the president’s homeland security adviser Thomas P. Bossert, and former top economic adviser to the president Gary D. Cohn.
Trump’s relations with his second and current chief of staff John Kelly have also soured. Kelly succeeded Reince Priebus, who himself quit over disagreements with the US president.
Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, is said to be Kelly’s protégé.