(The Root) — Jeh Johnson is slated to become the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Reuters reports. President Barack Obama is expected to nominate Johnson, who served as the general counsel of the Department of Defense from 2009 to 2012, to replace Janet Napolitano, who resigned earlier this year.
“He is one of the most highly qualified and respected national-security leaders, having served as the senior lawyer for the largest government agency in the world,” a White House official told Reuters on Thursday.
According to ABC News, Johnson called working for Obama the “highlight of [his] professional life.
“I have been on an incredible journey with Barack Obama … going back to November 2006, when he recruited me to the presidential campaign he was about to launch,” Johnson said in a speech at Yale Law School last year, according to the news site. “I remember thinking then, ‘This is a long shot, but it will be exciting, historic, and how many times in my life will someone personally ask me to help him become president?’ “
If confirmed, the Morehouse alum will, of course, be the first African American to serve in this Cabinet position. His appointment is also noteworthy because earlier this year, there was talk that the president might opt to ignore or even embrace the racially charged and sometimes outright antagonistic work of New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who supported that city’s stop-and-frisk policy, by nominating him to the post. So Johnson’s nomination takes a distinct turn in a different direction.