Updated Apr 8, 2019

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen resigns

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has resigned, President Trump tweeted Sunday.

"Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service. I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for @DHSgov. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!"

Behind the scenes: A source close to DHS told Axios that Nielsen would be having a showdown with the president on Sunday night.

  • "Frustrations were building on both sides," the source said. "She was undercut at every turn. She's done everything she can do. The White House is eating their own."

CBS' Paula Reid reported earlier Sunday that Nielsen was "expected to resign" in her meeting with Trump that night, but Trump's ambiguous wording reflects the predictably messy end to this relationship, which was formalized in a meeting in the White House residence.

  • It may well be that Nielsen was the one who formally resigned — but the formalities don't really matter. Trump has wanted Nielsen gone for months because he believes she's "weak" on immigration, per multiple sources with direct knowledge of the president's thinking.

The big picture: It's been a tortured relationship from the beginning, with Trump blaming Nielsen for every problem at the southern border and for the recent spike in families coming from Northern Triangle countries. Trump has long felt that Nielsen isn't "tough enough" when it comes to defending the border and kicking illegal immigrants out of the U.S., according to sources who've discussed the subject with the president.

During her tenure, Nielsen was put in the position of having to defend the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy that resulted in thousands of migrant children being separated from their families, for which she was often maligned in the media and by Democratic lawmakers.

  • In January, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) formally requested that the FBI investigate whether Nielsen lied under oath when she told Congress in December 2018, "We've never had a policy for family separation."

The latest: Nielsen said in a tweet Sunday night she had agreed to stay on as homeland security secretary until Wednesday "to assist with an orderly transition and ensure that key DHS missions are not impacted."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.

How Trump’s economy stacks up

Source: "Presidents and US Economy", Trump figures through 2019 courtesy of Alan Blinder; Note: Data shows real GDP and Q1 growth in each term is attributed to the previous president; Chart: Axios Visuals

Average economic growth under President Trump has outpaced the growth under Barack Obama, but not all of his recent predecessors.

Why it matters: GDP is the most comprehensive economic scorecard — and something presidents, especially Trump, use as an example of success. And it's especially relevant since Trump is running for re-election on his economic record.

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Health