Nielsen’s testimony to Congress in January was also somewhat cringeworthy. After declining to confirm that Trump described Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” in a meeting she had attended, Nielsen was asked about Trump reportedly citing Norway as an example of a country with more desirable immigrants. Spotlighting a heavily white Scandinavian country in contrast to countries with heavy black populations led to plenty of inescapable conclusions — for just about everyone except Nielsen, it seemed.
Here’s the exchange with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.):
LEAHY: What does he mean when he says he wants more immigrants from Norway?
NIELSEN: I don’t believe he said that specifically. . . . what he was specifically referring to is, the prime minister telling him that the people of Norway work very hard. And so, what he was referencing is, from a merit-based perspective, we’d like to have those with skills who can assimilate and contribute to the United States, moving away from country quotas and to an individual merit-based system.
LEAHY: Norway is a predominantly white country, isn’t it?
NIELSEN: I actually do not know that, sir, but I imagine that is the case.
Norway is 95 percent white.
What’s remarkable about the whole thing is that Nielsen has publiclyappeared to be one of Trump’s staunchest defenders. Yet he has privately berated her for an uptick in illegal immigration and apparently doesn’t trust her because she worked in the Bush administration.
If this is a motivational tactic, it appears to be working. But it also means Nielsen might be sacrificing her credibility for something of a lost cause.