President Donald Trump will nominate top White House aide Kirstjen Nielsen to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the White House said in a statement on Wednesday, Reuters reports.
Nielsen, 45, is a cyber security expert who previously worked at the DHS’s Transportation Security Administration and on former Republican President George W. Bush’s White House Homeland Security Council.
He also served as chief of staff to retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, while he was DHS secretary of homeland security during the opening months of Trump’s presidency. When Kelly was named as Trump’s chief of staff, he took Nielsen to the White House as his deputy.
Reuters adds that by having Nielsen as a DHS chief, Trump and Kelly would both be able to keep a close eye on the department. At the moment, the DHS has been led by an acting secretary, Elaine Duke.
Duke’s appointment comes at a busy time for the department, with one of its agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, overseeing disaster relief in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida as well as wildfire-ravaged areas of California, Reuters adds.
If confirmed by the Senate, Nielsen would be the first homeland security secretary to have previously served as a rank-and-file member of the department. Nielsen would immediately be given the task of helping coordinate the federal response to potential cyber attacks that target elections, Reuters notes.