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As chief of DHS, Kirstjen Nielsen is tasked with protecting the U.S. homeland. To hear her tell it, that involves keeping terrorists out, separating mothers from their children, and avoiding saying or doing anything that could imperil the legitimacy or longevity of the Trump Administration.
Nielsen, yesterday, became the latest Trump Administration official to deny familiarity with a 16-month-old intelligence report finding that Russia had aimed to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election. Here’s what she said to CNN’s Manu Raju:
RAJU: Do you have any reason to join the January 2017 intelligence community assessment that said it was Vladimir Putin who tried to meddle in this election to help President Trump win?
NIELSEN: I do not believe that I’ve seen that conclusion. … That the specific intent was to help President Trump win? I’m not aware of that.
As others have pointed out, the U.S. intelligence community has been unequivocal about the fact that there was pro-Trump Russian interference, so for Nielsen to not be “aware” of that is either her fooling herself or a lie.
Whoa… DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told @mkraju moments ago that she is “not aware” of the US intelligence community’s conclusion that PUTIN specifically tried to help TRUMP win. Here’s the very clear-cut assessment from the DNI, FBI, CIA and NSA released in January 2017. pic.twitter.com/nAojumWkxc
— Marshall Cohen (@MarshallCohen) May 22, 2018
Or maybe Nielsen hasn’t had a chance to read the report because she’s been too busy separating women and children at the border, despite guidance from experts on how unnecessary and destructive this policy is. Nielsen’s been questioned about the practice multiple times, and she’s made it clear that she sees this as some kind of law-and-order imperative:
My decision has been that anyone who breaks the law will be prosecuted. If you’re a parent or you’re a single person or you happen to have a family, if you cross between the ports of entry, we will refer you for prosecution. You’ve broken U.S. law.
It’s pretty clear what Nielsen sees as the bigger threat to our nation’s security: not foreign interference in our elections, but kids fleeing violence. This is, of course, all illustrative of the Trump Administration’s upside-down, look-the-other-way, head-in-the-sand priorities on Making America White Again. A foreign government actively worked to sway a major U.S. election in ways we still don’t completely understand? See no evil, speak no evil. There are women and children at the border who are fleeing violence and desperately seeking safety? Prosecute them to the full extent of the law.