Kirstjen Nielsen cancels Atlantic Festival appearance after backlash from the left: reports

"Cancel culture" appears to have claimed another victim. Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is no longer scheduled to participate in a three-day festival hosted by The Atlantic next week, the publication said Friday.

Several liberal groups are claiming victory, saying they pressured Nielsen to back out of the event.

“We previously announced that we would be interviewing former DHS Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen at @TheAtlanticFest next week. Nielsen's team has let us know that she is no longer able to participate in the interview,” The Atlantic Communications tweeted Friday afternoon.

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The magazine maintains Nielsen was the one to cancel the scheduled appearance.

"I wanted to let everyone know that Kirstjen Nielsen's team has let us know that she is no longer able to participate in TAF [The Atlantic Festival]," Margaret Low, president of AtlanticLive, wrote in an email to staff obtained by The Hill.

Two sources familiar with the matter told The Hill that several Atlantic staffers protested the decision to include Nielsen in the festival, but a magazine spokesperson said Nielsen’s “invitation was not rescinded, so that is 100 percent inaccurate."

Liberals take credit

But liberal organizations took credit and also criticized The Atlantic for initially including the former Trump administration immigration official on the festival's set list.

The announcement came following backlash from a progressive grassroots group called CREDO Action, which claimed "Public pressure from thousands of CREDO members and grassroots activists forced Kirstjen Nielsen to withdraw from the Atlantic Fest, which is a huge victory and should set a precedent for not putting profits over morals when it comes to Trump administration alumni."

Credo Action campaign director Nicole Regalado, told The Hill "No one from Trump's administration should get a soft landing to sanitize their actions while supporting and pushing forward a white nationalist, fascist agenda."

'Public backlash' threatened

The group also threatened that the media and corporations should think twice before giving a platform to “people who worked hand-in-hand with Trump to separate families, lock babies up in cages, and terrorize communities of color."

"Public backlash will be swift and powerful for anyone who tries to help rehabilitate the reputations of Trump's top henchmen," CREDO Action said in a statement, according to Common Dreams.

"Public backlash will be swift and powerful for anyone who tries to help rehabilitate the reputations of Trump's top henchmen."

— CREDO Action statement

The Atlantic had announced earlier this week that Nielsen would be interviewed during the three-day The Atlantic Festival on “the Trump administration’s immigration policy, which she implemented as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.”

The Atlantic’s Tuesday news release also said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, and Disney CEO Bob Iger would be interviewed onstage during the festival, set to be held in Washington, Tuesday through Thursday.

Other current and former Trump administration officials remain on the guest list. Jim Mattis, who served a tumultuous two years as Trump's defense secretary before he was fired, is scheduled to speak, as is current Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II.

Liberal groups on Twitter also took aim at The Atlantic and pointed to Nielsen’s record of perceived offenses against immigrants.  

"Kirstjen Nielsen, you don't get to separate families, cause long-lasting trauma to our kids, and think you can walk away scot-free," Vote Latino, a voter advocacy group, said on Twitter. "We will not forget the harm you've caused to our community. You don't get to rehabilitate your image."

"Good—but she never should have been invited in the first place," daily kos author Gabe Ortiz said. "Nielsen's role in implementing the administration's inhumane family separation policy will be remembered as one of the darkest times in modern U.S. history."



"Glad she's not getting this platform to rehabilitate her image, but she shouldn't have ever been invited," Bend the Arc: Jewish Action also tweeted.

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Past confrontations

Before she left the Trump administration in April, Nielsen was the target of several public confrontations waged by critics of President Trump's immigration policies.

In June 2018, an angry mob of socialists heckled Nielsen at a restaurant in Washington, forcing her to leave.

That same month, another group of protesters gathered outside Nielsen's home.

Other Republicans who have been confronted in public include former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Also on the guest list at The Atlantic Festival: former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice; former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki; NBA Commissioner Adam Silver; Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association; CEO and executive editor of Rappler Maria Ressa; and "Tonight Show" musician Questlove.