- Trump asked his Homeland Security secretary to abolish an entire Appeals Court, per a new book.
- “Let’s just cancel it,” Trump told then-Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the Ninth Circuit.
- Trump, per the book, told Nielsen to draft a bill to “get rid of the fucking judges.”
President Donald Trump asked his Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to write a bill to eliminate an entire federal Circuit Court of Appeals after it ruled against him, according to an upcoming book by The New York Times’ Peter Baker and The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser.
The West Coast-based Ninth Circuit, one of the most liberal circuits, became a frequent target of Trump’s ire, the authors detail in the book “The Divider,” which Insider obtained ahead of its September 20 publication. Trump raised the idea of simply abolishing the court altogether after it ruled against one of his administration’s policies seeking to more easily deport asylum seekers in 2018, according to the authors.
“Let’s just cancel it,” Trump told Nielsen, instructing her that if such a move required legislative action, to write a bill to “get rid of the fucking judges” and send it to Congress, the book said.
Nielsen was “hardly surprised by anything by that point, but even for Trump it seemed a step beyond, to demand elimination of a court just because it ruled against him,” Glasser and Baker wrote.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt had expanded the courts, but Nielsen couldn’t remember any president wanting to outright abolish an entire slate of federal judges.
“Nielsen did not bother arguing with him,” the authors wrote. “She just did what she and so many other administration officials did when Trump issued nonsensical demands — ignored it and hoped it would go away.”
The relationship between Trump and Nielsen only deteriorated after that point, according to the book, as Trump pushed Homeland Security and immigration officials to enforce his draconian and, in some cases, unlawful immigration policy ideas.
Shortly after, on April 1, 2019, Nielsen had been in England for a matter of hours for a series of meetings when Trump ordered her back to the US to deal with the border issue.
“I don’t know you’re out of the country,” Trump admonished Nielsen, per the authors. “You need to get your ass back here.”
While Nielsen was en route, Trump asked Customs and Border Protection Director Kevin McAleenan to close the US-Mexico border to migrants altogether.
When McAleenan told Trump that was illegal, Trump said, “if you get in trouble for it, I’ll pardon you,” according to the book.
And when Nielsen finally arrived in Calexico, California, on the US-Mexico border, she was greeted with hugs from senior White House advisers Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner – “a sure indication, she thought, that she was finished,” the book said.
Indeed, just days later on April 7, Nielsen was asked to the White House, where Trump said her time was up. She submitted her resignation that evening.