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Photo: Department of Homeland Security

After about a million stories reporting that Donald Trump had had it up to his weird eyebrows with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and was on the verge of firing her, he finally shitcanned her yesterday, although of course we're told she chose to resign. Her resignation letter was quite clear about that, once reporters pried it loose from the dagger in her back. Let's look back at her brief but disastrous career in cruelty, lies, and sucking up, shall we?


Nielsen came to power as John Kelly's chief of staff when he was appointed to run DHS. She wasn't his first choice -- initially, he'd chosen Alan Metzler, an Air Force colonel who had served as deputy chief of staff to Jeh Johnson, the previous DHS secretary. But Trump's political commissar informed Kelly absolutely no Obama holdovers would be tolerated, because people who know what they're doing are clearly disloyal. So Kelly ended up with Nielsen, who had worked with Trump's transition team and helped prep Kelly for his confirmation hearings. She promptly ended the daily meetings of DHS staff and arranged for Kelly to have more direct contact with Trump political appointees than with career people, because duh, can't let the Deep State corrupt him!

Once Kelly was chosen to be Trump's chief of staff, Nielsen was seen as a compliant pick for DHS, somebody who didn't know enough about immigration to muck things up with her own opinions, as the New Yorker's Jonathan Blitzer reported.

"Nielsen doesn't want to piss off the President," one of the former officials told me. "She has zero independent political power base in Washington. She's a hundred per cent this White House and John Kelly. They wanted someone who didn't have a record speaking out against the President and who wouldn't go in that direction."

Needless to say, that former official hates America and wants open borders. One of Nielsen's first acts as DHS secretary was to strip Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from 200,000 legal immigrants from El Salvador, reversing years of DHS extensions of their legal status under the novel idea that despite continued danger and instability in the country, it would be peachy to send those folks back because the situation that initially allowed them to stay in the US, a devastating 2001 earthquake, was all over. Trump's immigration Grand Wizard, Stephen Miller, and others had decided that regardless of whether home countries were safe to return to, TPS could be ended, and Nielsen agreed, because the White House did all her thinking for her.

A federal judge last fall blocked deportations of protected immigrants to El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Yemen, noting that the administration hadn't presented a coherent rationale for the end of TPS. The decision noted the law does require the government to consider whether home countries are able to take people back, and also said there were "serious questions as to whether a discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor" in the revocation of TPS. Jeez, you make one innocent remark about wanting to cleanse America of people from shithole countries and that you'd prefer Nordics with extra js in their names, and liberals never let you live it down.

Oh, yes, about that: Nielsen, despite being at the meeting where Trump had his "shithole" meltdown, told the Senate Judiciary Committee she couldn't recall Trump using that word. Of course not.

Nielsen also notoriously presided over DHS when the administration rolled out its family separation policy last April. The policy was pushed by her former boss John Kelly long before it became official, and as we later learned, thousands of children might have been taken away from parents before the policy was announced. Kelly readily acknowledged he thought taking children away from their parents was a nifty "deterrent" to people seeking asylum. Nielsen, on the other hand, was shocked, shocked that anyone thought there was such a policy, because there wasn't.

Kelly's brainchild was just one more immigrant kid Nielsen lost track of, we guess.

And yes, OF COURSE internal DHS documents later showed that family separation had been the intention all along, not just an unfortunate side effect of criminally charging all border crossings. In fact, it was two sets of documents; after the second became public in January, Sen Jeff Merkley (D- Oregon) quaintly suggested Nielsen be investigated for lying to Congress.

Of course, immigration isn't the ONLY thing Nielsen likes to prevaricate about. She also repeatedly bullshitted about whether she thought Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, because why would the secretary of Homeland Security really know anything about that? Let us never accuse her of not being versatile in her ability to align her thinking with that of Donald Trump.

Despite all of that loyalty to Trump -- born more of opportunism than ideology, according to those who knew her -- Nielsen was constantly derided by the Great Man, because she didn't make migrants vanish the way she was supposed to. Even as the family separation policy was getting underway, Trump blew up at Nielsen and accused her of not doing enough to murder immigrants, as the New York Times reported last May:

One persistent issue has been Mr. Trump's belief that Ms. Nielsen and other officials in the department were resisting his direction that parents be separated from their children when families cross illegally into the United States, several officials said. The president and his aides in the White House had been pushing a family separation policy for weeks as a way of deterring families from trying to cross the border illegally.

Nielsen reportedly considered resigning after the meeting where Trump blew up at her, but bravely soldiered on, enforcing the family separation policy that never existed, then almost resigning again last November, getting a bit of a reprieve later that month when Border Patrol officers tear-gassed people at the border. (Trump likes seeing mothers and children tear-gassed, since they're really all in MS-13; the Washington Post says her "standing" with Trump briefly went up after the tear gassings.) By December, she was busy telling Congress America needs WALL and that we had deported all the definite articles:

Nielsen was still busy lying for Trump as recently as a month ago, insisting cages aren't cages, there was never a family separation policy, and all deported parents had said "whatever, guess not" when asked if they wanted their kids back.

But now she's leaving her job, and will have to somehow survive on the Wingnut Welfare circuit after failing to make Central Americans understand that fleeing for their lives was bad for her career. Also, just stop it right now with your calls for Nielsen to face human rights charges in the Hague -- the US never ratified the treaty because it would violate our precious bodily sovereignty.

It's almost enough to make us want to believe she might someday have to justify herself to an angry God.

[New Yorker / NYT / Atlantic]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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