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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Early on in the January government shutdown, there was a meeting in the White House Situation Room between President Trump, then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, administration staff and congressional leaders from both parties.

Behind the scenes: Nielsen was trying to explain the chaos at the border. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kept interrupting her, saying she thought the Trump administration was manufacturing the crisis and distorting statistics, according to four sources who were in the room.

So Nielsen, visibly frustrated with Pelosi, turned to Kevin McAleenan, then the head of Customs and Border Protection (last week, Trump gave him her job). He was sitting along the wall with the other staff, behind the main table.

  • Nielsen asked McAleenan to dig into the figures and explain some of the intricacies of the situation. "She was like, 'You don't have to listen to me because I am the president's DHS secretary; listen to the career professional,'" one source recalled.
  • Pelosi interjected that McAleenan was also one of the president's people.
  • Then Trump said of McAleenan: "He's an Obama guy!"
  • McAleenan replied quietly that he was a career guy before becoming a political appointee under Trump.

A senior White House official said Trump "was trying to say Kevin has credibility on the issue and worked in another administration."

  • And Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill responded: "It is a statement of fact that this administration has used false statistics in an effort to support their anti-immigrant policies that are creating a massive humanitarian challenge at the border."

Between the lines: It's a bit ironic that Trump's pick to make DHS more aggressive is someone he called "an Obama guy."

Editor's note: This post has been corrected to reflect the fact that McAleenan was the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (not Nielsen's deputy).

Go deeper

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.

44 mins ago - World

North Korea's military fires another ballistic missile into sea

A woman in Seoul, South Korea, walks past a television image if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired at least one ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday, per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues National Archives, Jan. 6 committee to block records request

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the National Archives from releasing White House records to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing executive privilege.

Why it matters: It's the latest escalation in Trump's campaign to disrupt the committee's sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding Jan. 6, including his actions and communications leading up to the Capitol attack.