U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch is now calling on Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign, partly because of comments made by Nielsen during an interview at the Aspen Security Forum.
Nielsen touched on a variety of topics during an interview with NBC’s Peter Alexander, including last year’s violent protests in Charlottesville and Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Deutch, who represents Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, released a statement calling for her reisgnation Friday.
The statement first hit Nielsen for her explanation of the separation of migrant children from their families caused by policies of the Donald Trump administration.
“Secretary Nielsen has repeatedly spread misinformation and lied to the American people,” Deutch said.
“Just this week, she claimed that the child separation policy was the result of court rulings—not the intended result of the Trump administration’s own cruel policies.”
It is true the 1997 Flores settlement agreement prevents the federal government from holding detained children and parents together for more than 20 days. It is also true that the Barack Obama administration separated some children from their families.
What is different under the Trump administration is the scale. Trump’s zero-tolerance policy at the border ramped up the amount of people being detained. While it’s true the Flores agreement tied the administration’s hands to some extent, they knew about it before they instituted their zero-tolerance policy.
Deutch went on to hammer Nielsen over her comments at Thursday’s conference.
“She also said she has yet to see any evidence that Russia orchestrated a cyberattack on our democracy to support President Trump’s candidacy. In both cases she is ignoring the facts and denying reality.
“Casting doubt on the intelligence community’s overwhelming consensus around Russia’s attack on our nation is unacceptable, especially after President Trump spent the week trying to recover from his own shameful denials as he stood side-by-side with Putin in Helsinki.”
Secretary Nielsen’s comments repeated similar remarks she made back in May. They also counter the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia was trying to help Trump. That assessment has been supported by multiple members of Trump’s own administration.
Deutch then turned to comments Nielsen made regarding last year’s Charlottesville attack, where she echoed President Trump’s comments that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the Confederate flag debate.
“It’s not that one side is right, one side is wrong” Nielsen said in her interview with Alexander. “Anybody that is advocating violence, we need to work to mitigate.”
“The DHS secretary is responsible for keeping us safe at home,” countered Deutch.
“If she can’t state unequivocally that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are a threat to the American people, we must question her judgment. That she had to tiptoe around the question as though this was controversial is outrageous.”
Deutch feels that Nielsen’s public comments, as well as her role in Trump’s immigration policy, require her to step down.
“By rejecting facts and refusing to directly face obvious security threats, Secretary Nielsen is betraying our values and failing to lead the agency responsible for public security. Secretary Nielsen should resign.”