Who Is John Kelly? Donald Trump’s Rumored Homeland Security Pick Has Been Revealed

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that President-elect Donald Trump tapped John Kelly to be secretary of homeland security. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, led the United States Southern Command. His own son, Lt. Robert Michael Kelly, was killed in 2010 while serving in Afghanistan.

Trump has not officially offered Kelly the secretary of homeland security position yet, according to a source briefed on his selection who spoke to the New York Times. The delay is partially due to the fact that Kelly is currently out of the country, the report noted.

Kelly led an esteemed career in the military. As commander of the United States Southern Command, Kelly held a post that is considered "less combat-focused than other regional military commands" and "has a reputation for emphasizing 'soft power' over hard military might, and gets deeply involved in issues such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as programs to train local militaries," the New York Times noted.

The Washington Post described Kelly as a "border security hawk" who has warned that better protection is needed. Kelly told the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2015 that, “Despite the heroic efforts of our law enforcement colleagues, criminal organizations are constantly adapting their methods for trafficking across our borders.” He continued, "While there is not yet any indication that the criminal networks involved in human and drug trafficking are interested in supporting the efforts of terrorist groups, these networks could unwittingly, or even wittingly, facilitate the movement of terrorist."


Kelly appeared to run in opposition to some of the Obama's administration proposals and views, especially when it came to Guantanamo Bay. "The facilities they live in today are pretty good," Kelly said of Guantanamo. "Again, I wouldn't want to be a detainee, but if you got to be a detainee somewhere, Gitmo is the place to be." According to the Washington Post, "Kelly opposed Obama’s failed plans to close Guantanamo, people familiar with his views say."

Kelly also publicly dismissed concerns about the treatment of detainees in 2014 at a summit organized by Human Rights First. As the Washington Post reported at the time, Kelly said “I would say that people who said to me, ‘Well, we have now lost the moral high ground,’ I think that’s foolishness. Some might say that. The jihadists were saying it today. Gimme a break. [Islamic State] is telling us we lost the moral high ground? I love it.”