Before she was forced to resign earlier this month, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made it a priority for the White House to take more serious steps to prepare for further interference from Russia in the 2020 election. However, as the New York Times reports, she was warned by White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney not to bring these plans up to the president himself.
The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly observed continued attempts by the Russians to interfere with our electoral process in 2018 and beyond. Some of these attacks include further efforts to divide Americans using social media, high-level hacking, invading power grids and rerouting internet traffic. Still, Mulvaney quickly threw cold water on any attempts to bring more attention to the matter through the president, as he believes Trump still sees public discussion of Russian interference as questioning the legitimacy of his victory in 2016. One senior administration official told the Times that Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”
Nielsen was advocating for a meeting between several cabinet members at the White House to try to put together a plan to protect future elections from being meddled with. Constant roadblocks put up by Mulvaney and others eventually led Nielsen to give up on the meeting despite the DHS’s cybersecurity responsibilities.
Nielsen’s 16-month tenure as Secretary of Homeland Security was among the worst in history. Her policies led to countless human rights abuses at the border, including the separation of migrant families, the use of tear gas at the San Ysidro border crossing, and the deaths of several migrant children while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. She resigned from her position on April 7, 2019.