"Kirstjen can hit the ground running and there won't be a learning curve", Ridge said.
Also considered for the job was House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas. She's the first nominee to lead DHS to have previously worked there.
She has a reputation as an expert on cybersecurity matters, and if confirmed, she would be the first former DHS employee to run the department. As a young attorney, she drafted legislation and policy at the Transportation Security Administration, then served as a special adviser for emergency preparedness and disaster management under President George W. Bush. Mr. Kelly, who spends much of his time managing the president and working to defuse brewing confrontations between Mr. Trump and senior advisers, has leaned on Ms. Nielsen to manage and impose discipline on the rest of the White House staff. She moved with the retired Marine Corps general to the White House when Trump tapped him as his chief of staff.
The Senate will need to confirm Nielsen's nomination. "It seems like more of a lazy pick than a wide search".
Trump additionally commended Kelly, who had just finished briefing the press, for his role at the DHS and now at the White House, saying "He is one of the finest people I have ever had the privilege to know, and we are deeply fortunate that he is now here at the White House as our chief of staff".
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), a ranking member of the House Homeland Security panel, said he was pleased Trump had selected a permanent agency head "after letting the critical national security position remain vacant as the nation faced multiple major hurricanes and a domestic terrorism attack".