On Wednesday, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was for some reason given a platform to speak at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit. And predictably, the woman who oversaw the Trump administration’s (ongoing) efforts to separate families at the border used her time as an opportunity to defend herself and claim to be someone who—and please take a deep breath here—“spoke truth to power.”
It’s clear Nielsen is attempting to go on a redemption tour, telling PBS NewsHour’s Amna Nawaz that she left her post because “saying no” was “not going to be enough.”
“There were a lot of things that, there were those in the administration who thought that we should do, and just as I spoke truth to power from the very beginning, it became clear that saying no, and refusing to do it myself was not going to be enough, so it was time for me to offer my resignation,” Nielsen told Nawaz. She was clearly referring to people like Stephen Miller and Trump himself, both of whom pushed for Nielsen to leave. (Convenient for Nielsen to brand her time in the Trump administration as an exercise in pushing back against powerful men.)
As for overseeing the separation of thousands of families at the U.S.-Mexico border, Nielsen said that she has few regrets. “I don’t regret enforcing the law, because I took an oath to do that,” Nielsen said, according to CNN.
“What I regret,” she added, “is that we haven’t solved it and what I regret that that information flow and coordination to quickly reunite the families was clearly not in place and that’s why the practice was stopped through an executive order.” (She neglected to mention here that children have continued to be taken from their families. Oops!)
Many immigrant rights organizations had protested Fortune’s decision to include Nielsen in the event, and in response, the author and filmmaker dream hampton as well as singer Brandi Carlile dropped out of the event. “Fortune should not be giving Kirstjen Nielsen a platform to rehabilitate her image,” hampton wrote in a statement, adding: “Sharing a stage with Nielsen, who separated immigrant families and put babies in cages, would have put a stamp of approval on her immoral and reprehensible actions and help legitimize the terror that Trump is inflicting on immigrants and communities of color.” Carlile announced her decision in a tweet, writing: ““I don’t think that human rights violators and merit-based abusers of displaced people should be given a platform to ‘reimagine’ history. Ever.” She continued: “Respectfully, I absolutely cannot support Kirstjen Nielsen having a voice among the most powerful and inspiring women in America.” Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, who was also scheduled to speak at the event, also dropped out, officially citing scheduling conflicts (though as Slate reported, her decision was tied to Nielsen’s participation).