As Donald Trump continues to roll out the "finalists: for his presidential administration, a new name that will be very familiar to Irish Americans has emerged as a contender for a top post: Pete King, the Republican Congressman from Long Island, NY. King, who has served in Congress for 23 years, was mentioned as Trump’s potential pick for his Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism . King has been a staunch supporter of Trump since he won the Republican primary, calling his election win "a great day for the American people", and also has an impressive track record in security and counter-terrorism policy, having chaired the House Homeland Security Committee for two terms.
When asked about the Homeland Security post by Newsmax, King said he "had heard rumors about this appointment, but I don't expect it to be offered” and added "My obsession is with the issues of terrorism and security, but I think I can do more on those issues in Congress.”
However, a number of colleagues have come forward to offer their support for King taking the job.
"Pete would be awesome in that job!" former House Intelligence Committee Pete Hoekstra, R.-Mich., told Newsmax, calling him “one of most knowledgeable people in Congress on what threatens Americans."
The role of Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, created in 2001 and currently occupied by Lisa Monaco, involves assessing security risks to the US and advising the president on how to respond.
King has worked productively with the Obama administration, though he also sees eye-to-eye with Trump on a number of the President-elect’s more controversial plans, including strict monitoring for immigrants who come to the US from countries with histories of terrorism.
In light of this, the Irish media has pointed to King’s past remarks in support of the Provisional IRA, and his long-term affinity with Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein.
With his paternal grandparents hailing from Galway, King first became involved in Irish issues in the 1970s, when he began making trips to Ireland and became friends with Adams.
The Belfast Telegraph cited two of King’s speeches from the ‘80s:
“In 1982, Mr. King told a rally in Long Island: ‘We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.’
“Three years later, he declared: ‘If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it.’”
He went on to play a crucial role in the Peace Process and the 1994 Ceasefire, and has been praised by both Tony Blair and Bill Clinton for his efforts there. Following September 11, he began calling for the PIRA to disband.
He has remained a supporter of Irish issues, including immigration reform.
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