Trump on Kirstjen Nielsen: Hard to imagine "a more qualified candidate" for DHS chief

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Deputy Chief of Staff Kirstjen Nielsen speak together as they walk across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, to board Marine One with President Donald Trump for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. then onto Yuma, Ariz. to visit the U.S. border with Mexico and attend a rally in Phoenix.

Andrew Harnik / AP

President Trump on Thursday afternoon formally nominated Kirstjen Nielsen to serve as the next secretary of homeland security and called on the Senate to swiftly confirm her for the Cabinet post.

"It's hard to imagine a more qualified candidate for this critical position," Mr. Trump said in a ceremony from the White House, calling on the Senate to "put politics aside" and confirm her in a "strong, bipartisan vote."

The president said that Nielsen will be ready to lead the department on "day one" because she has worked there for a number of years, joining the Transportation Security Administration in a policy role after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Nielsen said it would be "the highest honor of my life" if she is confirmed and can serve as homeland security secretary. She pledged that the Trump administration will "remain fully engaged in the long recovery effort ahead of us" following the natural disasters that affected several parts of the U.S. in recent weeks.

She had been serving as White House deputy chief of staff to Chief of Staff John Kelly, who had previously served as Mr. Trump's first homeland security secretary. Before that, Nielsen was Kelly's chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

Nielsen has also worked as a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber & Homeland Security at The George Washington University and served in the White House under President George W. Bush as special assistant to the president and senior director for prevention, preparedness and response. 

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.