David Jackson, USA TODAY
President Obama plans to nominate former Pentagon official Jeh Johnson as the next secretary of homeland security, officials said Thursday.
Johnson, general counsel for the Defense Department, will be introduced at a ceremony Friday.
If confirmed by the Senate, Johnson would replace Janet Napolitano, who left the administration to run the University of California system.
"The President is selecting Johnson because he is one the most highly qualified and respected national security leaders, having served as the senior lawyer for the largest government agency in the world," said one White House official.
The official said that during his tenure at the Justice Department, Johnson exhibited "sound judgement" and provided "prior legal review and approval of every military operation approved by the President and Secretary of Defense."
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Obama has not yet made his public announcement.