Apr 8, 2019

Behind the scenes: Kirstjen Nielsen sacked by tweet

Donald Trump and Kirstjen Nielsen. Photo: Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen brought her resignation letter with her when she met President Trump in the White House residence yesterday afternoon, top sources tell Axios.

Inside the room: She wasn't intent on quitting but was prepared to, sources tell us. The meeting went poorly, and Trump didn't even let her announce her "resignation." While she was racing to put out the letter (not that different from one she wrote after midterms), Trump tweeted that she "will be leaving her position."

"She was undercut at every turn," a source close to DHS said. "She's done everything she can do. The White House is eating their own."

Between the lines: Nielsen had been on the outs with some in the West Wing for at least six months, top officials tell us.

  • National security adviser John Bolton has felt the increase in immigration numbers made it clear that her policies weren't effective, and he thought the president should relieve her of her duties, a senior administration official said.
  • Last fall, Bolton took his advice about Nielsen to Trump, incurring the wrath of then-chief of staff John Kelly, a Nielsen protector.
  • Back in October, accounts surfaced of a shouting match between Bolton and Kelly. It turns out that it was over Bolton's Nielsen conversation with Trump.

Be smart: Nielsen's departure empowers White House hardliner Stephen Miller.

  • A Republican Senate aide tells Axios: “Nielsen leaving will make conservatives who were getting fed up with DHS happy."
  • "Real question will be who’s the [permanent] replacement and does that person have the credentials?"
  • "Whoever replaces will have one hell of a confirmation hearing.”

Go deeper: Read the resignation letter

Go deeper

Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Protesters on Tuesday evening by the metal fence recently erected outside the White House. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday night across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day — prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Protesters were still out en masse for mostly after curfews were in force in cities including Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and Portland — where police used pepper spray and flash bangs on a group throwing projectiles at them during an "unlawful assembly," per KATU. Portland police said this group was separate to the thousands of demonstrators who protested peacefully elsewhere in the city.

Primary elections test impact of protests, coronavirus on voting

Election official at a polling place at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the midst of a global pandemic and national protests over the death of George Floyd, eight states and the District of Columbia held primary elections on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, needs to win 425 of the 479 delegates up for grabs in order to officially clinch the nomination. There are a number of key down-ballot races throughout the country as well, including a primary in Iowa that could determine the fate of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

Iowa Rep. Steve King defeated in GOP primary

Rep. Steve King. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

State Sen. Randy Feenstra defeated incumbent Rep. Steve King in Tuesday's Republican primary for Iowa's 4th congressional district, according to the Cook Political Report.

Why it matters: King's history of racist remarks has made him one of the most controversial politicians in the country and a pariah within the Republican Party.