Jul 19, 2018

Secretary Nielsen says she agrees with intel community "full stop"

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum Thursday, said that while she hasn't "seen any evidence" that Russia targeted the U.S. election "to favor a particular political party," she agrees with the intelligence community's assessment "full stop."

Why it matters: The administration has vacillated on the the extent to which Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. The issue came to a head on Monday when President Trump refused to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin about Moscow's involvement during their joint press conference. The administration has since sought to clarify their position.

On Immigration
"Kids should be with their parents."
— Kirstjen Nielsen
  • Nielsen said the immigration system in the U.S. is "broken," and that "Congress is a part of it."
  • On the issues of migrant adults leaving behind children in the U.S., Nielsen said DHS will be working "to re-find them," but that it's "complicated because ... all of these adults who left without their kids left based on a decision to leave their children."
  • She said the family separation policy "wasn't a policy" as much as a "decision to enforce the law across the board."
On terrorism
  • Nielsen said that on average, the U.S. stops 10 terrorists a day from crossing the border.
  • The threat of terrorism "has changed ... I worry a lot about cyber," she said.
  • "Terror's gone viral."

One more thing: When asked about President Trump's "both sides" comment after the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last year, Nielsen said: "It's not that one side was right and one side was wrong."

Go deeper

Inside Trump's antifa tweet

President Trump at Cape Canaveral on May 30. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As recently as Saturday night, senior administration officials told me that the designation of a violent cohort of far-left activists, antifa, as a terrorist organization was not being seriously discussed at the White House. But that was Saturday.

Behind the scenes: The situation changed dramatically a few hours later, after prominent conservative allies of the president, such as his friend media commentator Dan Bongino, publicly urged a tough response against people associated with antifa (short for "anti-fascist").

U.S. enters 6th day of nationwide protests over George Floyd's killing

A protest in Philadelphia on May 31. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Protests continued across the country for the sixth day in a row on Sunday, as demonstrators called for justice in response to the deaths of George Floyd, EMT Breonna Taylor, jogger Ahmaud Arbery and countless other black Americans who have suffered at the hands of racism and police brutality.

What's happening: Protestors in D.C. broke one police barricade outside the White House on Sunday evening after reportedly demonstrating for several hours. The atmosphere was still largely peaceful as of 6pm ET.

Trump privately scolded, warned by allies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Over the past couple of days, numerous advisers both inside and outside the White House have urged the president to tone down his violent rhetoric, which many worry could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically.

Behind the scenes: The biggest source of internal concern was Trump's escalatory tweet, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Some advisers said it could damage him severely with independent voters and suburban women.