Homeland Security chief Nielsen: We can protect Trump’s State of the Union despite Pelosi claim

Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department, on Wednesday pushed back on a suggestion by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that President Donald Trump reschedule his State of the Union address to Congress because of security concerns related to the ongoing partial government shutdown.

Nielsen said her department and the U.S. Secret Service “are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union.”

Nielsen’s statement came hours after Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested Trump reschedule his Jan. 29 speech to a joint session of Congress, or make it “from the Oval Office,” or even submit his speech in writing.

In a letter to Trump, Pelosi noted that as a result of the shutdown, “Both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now — with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs.”

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless the government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for your to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to Congress on January 29th,” Pelosi wrote.

Until Nielsen’s tweet in response to Pelosi’s letter, the Trump administration had not responded to it formally.

However, a senior law enforcement official told NBC News that the Secret Service is fully ready to offer full protection for attendees at the State of the Union address despite the shutdown.

“It’s a no-fail mission,” the official said. “We’ve been planning for this for months, as we always do. It didn’t start up 29 days ago.”

Although Secret Service personnel are not being paid, the intelligence and protection functions of the agency are fully staffed.

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