Kirstjen Nielsen’s days as Homeland Security Secretary had long seemed numbered.
Many expected she would be pushed out last November, but her exit never materialised.
During her tenure, which came to an end today, she defended the Trump’s administration’s zero tolerance policy that resulted in thousands of migrant children being separated from their families.
There are reports that President Trump had been pushing for months to reinstate that policy, but that Ms Nielsen opposed it on legal rather than moral grounds. It is claimed she told the president what he was trying to do would be prohibited by a court order.
If that is the case, will her replacement, Kevin McAlleen, be more willing to push the bounds of what is legal?
Ms Nielsen and Donald Trump’s relationship was viewed as fractured from the start. But recently, things seem to have deteriorated further.
There was a spate of stories in Washington suggesting that Mr Trump blamed her for failing to resolve what he describes as a “crisis” on the border and for a recent spike in families crossing.
The 46-year-old was often criticised by Democratic lawmakers and some in the media for defending the separation policy.
It may be that Ms Nielsen was in fact the one to officially resign, but many White House watchers believe the president had wanted her gone for months.
She was believed to be resistant to immigration measures supported by the president and his aides, particularly senior adviser Stephen Miller, both on the border and on issues like protected status for refugees.
In recent weeks, tensions appear to have reached a head as Mr Trump seeks to regain control of the issue ahead of the 2020 re-election campaign.
The president views “securing the border” as a vital benchmark for his followers. During the midterms, he pinned his political strategy on railing against the migrant caravan. It is a topic he continues to place at the heart of his messaging.
Ms Nielsen says she has agreed to stay on until 10 April to “assist with an orderly transition and ensure that the key DHS missions are not impacted.”
The day after news of her resignation broke, she addressed reporters outside her house trying to dismiss speculation about a conflict with the president: “I just want to thank the president for the tremendous opportunity to serve the county… and the people of the DHS who continue to execute their mission to protect the homeland.”
She pointedly added that she will continue to support the president to “secure the border.”
One thing is for certain – as she leaves the political stage, her boss is gearing up for a tough and uncompromising push to finish the work he started.
The separation of families led to a fierce and divisive debate in America about its moral responsibilities. The match that lit that conversation is about to be sparked all over again.
Source: SKY NEWS