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Trump to Pick Kelly Deputy for Top Homeland Security Post

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen speak together as they walk across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen speak together as they walk across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 // Andrew Harnik/AP

President Donald Trump announced plans to nominate former Homeland Security Department chief of staff Kirstjen Nielsen to the department’s top spot Wednesday.

Nielsen moved to the White House with her boss, former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, when he became Trump’s chief of staff in July. She served most recently as Kelly’s principal deputy at the White House.

Nielsen has a long resume in the private sector focused on national security and cybersecurity, including protection of critical infrastructure, a key Homeland Security responsibility.

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Trump’s statement nominating Nielsen notes that, if confirmed, she will be the first Homeland Security Secretary to have previously worked at the 14-year-old department.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, applauded Trump’s move to fill the long-vacant post in an email statement but expressed concern about Nielsen’s work during the Bush administration’s lackluster response to Hurricane Katrina.

Nielsen served on the 43rd president’s Homeland Security Council at the time.

Elaine Duke has been acting Homeland Security Secretary since Kelly left the post.

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