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Top Kelly aide expected to be choice for Homeland Security secretary

Joseph Tanfani and Brian Bennett, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The White House will nominate Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to chief of staff John Kelly, to take over the Department of Homeland Security, according to a Homeland Security official.

The appointment of Nielsen would represent a continuation of the policies of Kelly. The retired Marine general won Trump's praise for his tough approach to immigration enforcement during his six months running the department.

The sprawling department includes the agencies responsible for policing borders and immigration, a central focus for the Trump administration, including Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Acting Secretary Elaine Duke told her staff about the expected appointment Wednesday, the official said. The choice was first reported by Politico.

Nielsen, who served as Kelly's deputy at Homeland Security before following him to the White House, has extensive expertise in cybersecurity, an increasing focus for the department. She served on the White House Homeland Security Council as a special assistant to President George W. Bush and worked on global cybersecurity policy for the United Nations.

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She also worked on the legislative policy department in the Transportation Security Administration, another component of the Homeland Security Department.

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