Trump expected to tap Kirstjen Nielsen to lead Department of Homeland Security

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday Sept. 20 2017 in New York

Evan Vucci AP

President Donald Trump reportedly plans to nominate Kirstjen Nielsen, a longtime aide to chief of staff John Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security. While two of those people cautioned that the president could always change his mind before a formal announcement, the others said the decision was slated to be announced formally Thursday.

Elaine Duke is running the DHS on an interim basis.

Five sources told Politico that President Donald Trump is expected to nominate Nielsen, now the White House's Principal Deputy Chief of Staff, as soon as Wednesday.

"The decision wouldn't have been made without the chief of staff's endorsement", a source told CNN, referring to Kelly's endorsement of Nielsen.

A White House official described Nielsen as on the "inside track" for the job, adding that the president is "very fond" of her. Prior to that, she worked as president and general counsel for the homeland and national security arm of the Civitas Group, a consulting firm.

The White House said Nielsen has "extensive professional experience in the areas of homeland security policy and strategy, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure and emergency management".

"She would be the first person to run the department who has actually worked there", one person close to the Trump administration told Politico.

Added Frances Townsend, her boss at the White House during the Bush administration: "She is tough as nails, competent and has rightly earned the president's respect". However, this was not her first time working in the White House, as she previously served in President George W. Bush's administration as the special assistant for prevention, preparedness and response on the Homeland Security Council.

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