Politics

Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen: We can protect State of the Union address by Trump despite Pelosi claim

Key Points
  • Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department, pushed back on a suggestion by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that President Donald Trump reschedule his State of the Union address to Congress.
  • Nielsen said that her department and the U.S. Secret Service "are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union" as scheduled Jan. 29.
  • Pelosi had said Trump should reschedule because of security concerns related to the ongoing government shutdown.
President Donald Trump gives his first State of the Union address to Congress and the country in Washington, United States on January 30, 2018.
Samuel Corum | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department, on Wednesday pushed back on a suggestion by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that President Donald Trump reschedule his State of the Union address to Congress because of security concerns related to the ongoing partial government shutdown.

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Pelosi calls on Trump to reschedule State of Union address

Nielsen said her department and the U.S. Secret Service "are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union."

Nielsen's statement came hours after Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested Trump reschedule his Jan. 29 speech to a joint session of Congress, or make it "from the Oval Office," or even submit his speech in writing.

In a letter to Trump, Pelosi noted that as a result of the shutdown, "Both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now — with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs."

"Sadly, given the security concerns and unless the government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for your to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to Congress on January 29th," Pelosi wrote.

Until Nielsen's tweet in response to Pelosi's letter, the Trump administration had not responded to it formally.

However, a senior law enforcement official told NBC News that the Secret Service is fully ready to offer full protection for attendees at the State of the Union address despite the shutdown.

"It's a no-fail mission," the official said. "We've been planning for this for months, as we always do. It didn't start up 29 days ago."

Although Secret Service personnel are not being paid, the intelligence and protection functions of the agency are fully staffed.