Donald Trump has spent the last few days engaged in one of his favorite activities: firing people. And the net result is that he has decimated the Department of Homeland Security.
The president seems to be in a controlled rage, having now let go DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director Lee Cissna, Undersecretary for Management Claire Grady, and General Counsel John Mitnick. And on top of that he also got rid of the highly respected Secret Service director, Randolph “Tex” Alles.
According to a new report in POLITICO, the people most surprised — and upset — by Trump’s DHS purge are top GOP senators.
“It’s a mess,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), who is up for re-election next year. “Honestly, it wasn’t Secretary Nielsen’s fault. It wasn’t for lack of effort on her part. I don’t know if there’s anybody who’s going to be able to do more.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was especially shocked by the firing of Cissna, especially after learning that Trump also plans to fire USCIS strategist Kathy Nuebel Kovarik. “I heard that they are on the list to be fired. They are doing in an intellectual-like way what the president wants to accomplish. So no, they should not go,” said Grassley.
Trump’s congressional allies are now panicking and practically begging him not to fire more top officials at DHS or other agencies. They are telling him that it will be very hard to solve the immigration crisis and the border crisis without good people in charge of the process of making and enforcing immigration policies.
Trump Adviser Stephen Miler Is Behind the Purge
Most people believe that Trump’s massive shakeup of personnel has been caused by White House policy adviser Stephen Miller. Miller now seems to actually be making the immigration policy for the Trump administration. And he is a notorious hardliner (some would say white supremacist) who has been increasingly frustrated with what he sees as the lack of progress on sealing the border to migrants and refugees.
But Miller’s hard-line immigration approach was rejected by voters last November, when Democrats won a massive congressional victory. What’s worrying the GOP senators is that Trump seems to once again be making immigration the key element of his 2020 reelection campaign. They are afraid this will cause them to suffer another humiliating defeat, and possibly lose control of the Senate as well as the presidency.
Cornyn is especially frustrated because he has no idea what Miller’s agenda is when he makes decisions on immigration policy, and because he has not been confirmed by the Senate. He doesn’t talk to any Republicans in Congress, so they are kept completely in the dark.
“I thought that Nielsen was doing a fantastic job,” lamented Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, the No. 5 Senate GOP leader. “I would love to see some continuity. I think that’s important.”
Trump’s Purge Has Created Dysfunction and a Climate of Fear
But continuity is a thing of the past in the Trump administration. The purge has left new people in charge of everything, doing jobs they’ve never done before.
The only goal that Trump and Miller seem to have is to create an atmosphere of fear where all employees are intimidated and do what they’re told. They want absolute control, no questions asked.
Donald Trump always wants to be seen as tough, but his latest actions won’t accomplish that. They make him seem out of control and weak, because he has no workable plan to solve the nation’s immigration problems.
It remains to be seen if Trump’s latest moves help him politically, and if focusing on immigration will help him in the polls. The only thing we know for sure is that he has succeeded in creating chaos at the border. Maybe that has been his goal all along.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.