Kirstjen Nielsen Says He Left The Department Of Homeland Security Because "saying" No "wasn't Enough"

Washington (CNN) – Former National Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Tuesday she left office because "saying no" and refusing to do things that others in the administration wanted "was not enough."

“There were many things that some in the Government thought we should do, and just when I told the truth to power from the beginning, it became clear that saying no, and refusing to do it myself was not enough, so it was time to to offer my resignation, ”he said at the Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit.

His comments came at the end of an intense and brief interview with Amna Nawaz, a national correspondent for "PBS NewsHour," which focused primarily on Nielsen's controversial role in separating families at the border.


Nielsen, who resigned in April, was asked several times about whether he regretted signing a memorandum that forced families to be separated.

READ: Trump on separation of families at the border: "If you don't separate them, MANY more will come"

"I don't regret enforcing the law, because I took an oath to do it," Nielsen said, adding that his decision was to "enforce the law, not separate families."

However, he said he wished that the flow of coordination and information "would have worked much better."

"What I regret is that we have not solved it and what I regret is that this flow of information and coordination to quickly gather families clearly was not working and that is why the practice was stopped by decree," he said.

"It was clearly not working, so we stopped him during a decree," he added.

When asked if anyone expressed concern that the children were traumatized as a result of the policy, Nielsen said, "not by the staff, no."

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Nielsen for the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. Nielsen told the audience on Tuesday that the position was not paid and that he would be advising the Government on the needs of critical and cyber infrastructure.

MIRA: Detention of immigrant minors and separation from their families deteriorates their mental health, according to report

Nawaz pressed her on why she was advising the White House, which prompted a replica of Nielsen.

"Are you telling every executive director here that they should never advise the government?" He said causing applause.

This was Nielsen's first public interview since his forced resignation in April. She was scheduled to appear at the Atlantic Festival last month, but then retired amid criticism. She canceled due to a family situation, not criticism for her assistance, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Singer and songwriter Brandi Carlile left the Fortune event earlier this week, citing the "atrocity of family separation."

"Respectfully, I cannot support Kirstjen Nielsen having a voice among the most powerful and inspiring women in the United States," he tweeted.

MIRA: What is behind Kirstjen Nielsen's departure from the Department of Homeland Security?

Nielsen became the face of the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy that led to the separation of thousands of families who were arrested across the southern border.

At the end of the controversial interview, Nielsen said: "I wish we had reached the cyber topic, because that is why I was originally here."

"The cyber issue is the biggest threat we face today in the homeland," he said.



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