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Trump, in unexpected move, withdraws nomination to head ICE

Image: Ron Vitiello
Ron Vitiello during an interview in Richmond, Virginia on Nov. 9, 2018. -
Steve Helber AP file
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has withdrawn his nomination of Ron Vitiello, a longtime border official, to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a document sent to members of Congress Thursday and obtained by NBC News.

A Department of Homeland Security official confirmed the document's veracity.

However, the decision about Vitiello was not expected and there's still confusion about the circumstances.

Vitiello had been expected to travel later Friday with Trump to Calexico, California, where the president is scheduled to visit a newly-constructed border wall section. It's not clear whether he will still do so.

News of Vitiello's nomination being withdrawn was first reported by The Associated Press.

Trump had nominated Vitiello, who is the acting head of ICE — the agency tasked with enforcing immigration law in the interior of the U.S. — to be the organization's permanent leaderlast August.

Vitiello has been a law enforcement agent for more than 30 years, starting in 1985 with the U.S. Border Patrol.

Peter Alexander reported from Washington, and Adam Edelman reported from New York.