"What I'll say about Kevin is he's an extremely intelligent guy", he continued.
While Nielsen regained some support from the racist-in-chief by caging and tear-gassing Latino migrants, ultimately her refusal to violate existing law or to shut down the border, which would cause economic chaos, proved her undoing.
It was unclear early on Monday what legally sound strategies McAleenan could implement to achieve Trump's objective of limiting migrant crossings at the southern border, especially as crossings are expected to reach their yearly peak in the coming months, immigration experts said.
"Nielsen will go down in history as presiding over an exceptionally cruel regime that separated families and violated human rights", Jayapal said.
And in any case the children taken from their parents after crossing the border were "well taken care of", she insisted.
Nielsen skipped last week's meeting of interior ministers from the Group of Seven in Paris to deal with the migration crisis, which she has compared to the aftermath of a Category 5 hurricane.
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Often the primary person working to turn Trump's harsh immigration rhetoric into policy, Nielsen has faced intense scrutiny.
The president announced Nielsen's resignation on Twitter before she had the chance.
Repeatedly subjected to tough questioning by Democrats at congressional hearings, Nielsen became a lightning rod for criticism of Trump's policies.
She proposed an alternative plan that would slow down entries at legal ports.
There have been persistent tensions between the White House and Nielsen nearly from the moment she became secretary, after her predecessor, John Kelly, became the White House chief of staff in 2017.
Kelly resigned as chief of staff on January 2 amid reports of a strained relationship with Trump.
"I share the president's goal of securing the border".
Last night, on the second floor of the East Wing of the White House residence - in a room called the yellow oval - Nielsen, Mulvaney and the President met. Nielsen tried to present a path forward that was legal and in compliance with U.S. laws but the President said to her, "This isn't working".
US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen waits to testify to the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington December 20, 2018.