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Trump Dumps ICE Nominee for Someone 'Tougher'

Ron Vitiello is no longer the president's choice to head agency
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2019 12:39 PM CDT
President Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – A move unpredictable even for a president known for his unpredictability came down Thursday regarding President Trump's nomination for a new chief of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The president withdrew his pick of Ron Vitiello—a longtime border official with more than three decades of law enforcement experience, and who's currently the acting head of ICE—per a document given to Congress on Thursday and seen by NBC News. The withdrawal was confirmed by Trump himself Friday morning on the White House lawn. "We're going in a little different direction," Trump told reporters before he took off in Marine One to fly down to the US-Mexico border. "Ron is a good man, but we're going in a tougher direction. We want to go in a tougher direction."

Sources tell CNN that the announcement was met with surprise by members of Congress, as well as by DHS. In fact, up until Friday morning, top ICE officials thought the document may have been a clerical mistake. Even though Vitiello had some baggage—the agency's union had accused him of everything from making false statements to retaliating against whistleblowers and exhibiting "KKK humor" online—but CNN notes he was still widely thought to be set for a confirmation. The New York Times notes Vitiello was originally supposed to accompany the president on his border visit Friday, but instead "was left behind." It's not yet clear if Trump has a new pick already on deck. (Read more President Trump stories.)

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