- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday said President Trump has the “potential” to be a great president.

“I actually believe that Donald Trump has the potential to be a great president in sort of a Nixon goes to China way or Reagan goes to the Soviet Union way if he can find a way to rein in some of the more unhealthy impulses, listen to his staff, bring on a full complement of political appointees who can help him govern,” Mr. Johnson said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I’m very concerned about the tweets, obviously, and very concerned about the direction we’re taking in a lot of national security areas,” he said.

Mr. Johnson said his law firm has filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of a range of businesses against Mr. Trump’s latest executive order temporarily banning certain travel to the U.S. from a set of majority-Muslim countries. The ban has been halted for the time being by several courts, as was the first, more expansive one.

“We’re in this now where a matter of border security is something litigated in the courts, which many of us would have considered unprecedented as recently as a couple of months ago, but here we are,” he said.

“I’m concerned when it comes to homeland security we’re going to be fighting the last war,” Mr. Johnson said. “We may be responding to the terrorist attack of 10 years ago versus the next one.”

“Given where we are right now with the current threat environment, we need to focus on homegrown, home-born violent extremism, which is something we did a lot of in the last administration,” he said.

“That’s the thing that used to keep me up at night - the next terrorist attack by someone who lives in this country, who lives in our communities, may have been raised, may be born here, and that’s where I think a lot of our focus in homeland security needs to be,” he said.

“Two months is not a very, very long time,” he said. “I hope that there is considerable on-the-job learning. Every president grows in office. Every president makes mistakes, learns lessons in office.”

“For the success and the sake of the country, I think we all have to hope that this president can do the things necessary to fix a lot of problems that we have,” he said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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