It’s Kirstjen Nielsen’s last day as the secretary of Homeland Security, and already, she, along with her best buds in D.C., are reportedly desperate to do some PR surgery on her so she isn’t known for the rest of her life as “the woman who threw children in cages at the request of Donald Fucking Trump and then lied to Congress about it.”
And given what we know about D.C., they’re probably going to succeed.
Politico reports (emphasis mine):
Almost as soon as word of her resignation under pressure leaked, Nielsen’s allies began spinning a narrative of her tenure that casts her not as an enabler of President Donald Trump’s most controversial immigration policies, but as a guardrail against even more extreme action.
In particular, they stressed that the policy for which Nielsen is most fiercely reviled — separating detained migrant children from their parents — gave her no pleasure, and that she slow-walked or resisted other Trump demands on border security.
Ah, isn’t that nice. They may not know it now, but I’m sure the six year olds who suffer lasting damage from the trauma of being forcibly separated from their parents are one day going to appreciate Kirstjen Nielsen’s reluctance to take “pleasure” from enforcing the policy.
This jibes well with earlier reporting from the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman that suggested that Nielsen had her legacy on her mind:
No matter how many op-eds come out in the next week calling for a complete shunning of Nielsen from public life, experience tells us that she’s probably going to be just fine. John Kelly and Don McGahn are already hard at work trying to repair their public perceptions. Oliver North is president of the NRA. War criminal Elliott Abrams lied to Congress, admitted doing so, took a few decades to work on D.C. think tanks, and has since worked in two more Republican administrations.
And then, when Abrams was called out for his crimes after returning for his latest stint at the forefront of American foreign policy with a special focus on coups in Latin America, all of his think tank buddies, regardless of political affiliation, jumped to his defense. And don’t forget all the torturers and liars from the Bush administration who have paid no price for their crimes, such as Torture Memos writer and current UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo. Or Henry Kissinger. Or on and on and on.
According to Politico, Nielsen is “still plotting” what she wants to do after leaving the government, and her allies say she’ll probably “lay low for several months” in the meantime. Given what we know about accountability for powerful people in America, though, it’s a good bet that she’ll have little trouble finding a job once she’s ready.