Trump Knocks Nielsen As Exit Rumors Swirl

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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President Donald Trump criticized his Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during an interview on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace.

Trump tempered his criticism of Nielsen at the beginning of his answer, noting, “she’s very smart. I want her to get much tougher and we’ll see what happens there. But I want to be extremely tough … I like her very much, I respect her very much, I’d like her to be much tougher on the border — much tougher, period.”

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen appears before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill, on October 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony about threats to the homeland. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The president continued that there is a “chance” he could retain Nielsen in her position, but also told Wallace that it was normal to have people come in and out of government.

“That’s what happens in government—you leave. You make a name, you go. The people that have left have done very well,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) discusses the potential impact of Hurricane Michael with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (C) and FEMA Administrator Brock Long (R) in the Oval Office of the White House on October 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. Hurricane Michael has recently been upgraded to a category 4 storm. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Reports of  Nielsen’s possible departure circulated Tuesday. Sources familiar with the process told TheDC Tuesday they expect Nielsen to depart the administration in the coming weeks and that replacements were already being actively considered. (RELATED: Kelly Sees ‘Concerted Effort’ To Oust Him As Nielsen Likely Headed For Exit)

Trump himself told TheDC in an exclusive Oval Office interview Wednesday that he would be making a decision on Nielsen’s future “shortly.”