The Buzz

Trump hasn’t ‘really thought’ about Kobach for Homeland Security cabinet post

President Donald Trump told reporters during a trip to Texas Wednesday that he hasn’t thought about appointing Kris Kobach to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, told The Washington Examiner Tuesday that he has been in communication with the White House about possibly taking over the agency following Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation on Sunday.

But during a trip to San Antonio, Trump dismissed the notion that he was preparing to tap Kobach, who advised his 2016 campaign on immigration policy and served on his transition team.

“I have respect for him, but I haven’t really thought about that,” Trump said when asked about a possible Kobach nomination after a round table event on immigration.

Neither Kobach, nor his former campaign manager answered phone calls Wednesday after Trump’s remarks were made public.

Trump had been asked earlier in the day whether he was considering White House adviser Stephen Miller for the role. He didn’t confirm his consideration of Miller, but he heaped praise on his adviser.

“Stephen is an excellent guy. He’s a wonderful person. People don’t know him . . . He’s been with me from the beginning. He’s a brilliant man,” Trump said. “And frankly there’s only one person that’s running it. You know who that is? It’s me.”

Kobach has made a string of media appearances in recent weeks, in what appeared to be a bid for an administration job. He defended the president’s immigration agenda and criticized bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Security for failing to carry it out.

But Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, told The Star Tuesday that the GOP-controlled Senate would not be able to confirm Kobach, who failed to capture the Kansas governor’s office last year after a Trump endorsement helped him narrowly win the GOP nomination.

Kobach has the backing of hard-line groups seeking to reduce the rate of legal and illegal immigration, but would be a controversial pick and face a difficult confirmation process if nominated— even though Republicans hold 53 seats in the 100-member Senate.

A White House official said in February that Kobach was not being considered for a cabinet post after his former campaign manager floated the idea the Kansas Republican would replace Nielsen.

Kobach had met with Trump shortly after the 2016 election to discuss a strategic plan for the Department of Homeland Security.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, declined to comment on Kobach or other names being floated as potential nominees to take over DHS, but he said he agreed with the president that the agency needs to be more aggressive in securing the southern border.

“We have a humanitarian crisis. We can’t deal with sheer surge in number in folks at the border… We’ve got a drug smuggling crisis. We’ve got a human smuggling crisis. We have cartel crisis. So it’s really a disaster and we’ve got to have leadership that is willing to tackle those problems,” Hawley said.

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Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.
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