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‘He’d be an awful choice’: Trump faces criticism for nominating acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf to permanent head

‘Chad has done an outstanding job and we greatly appreciate his service,’ president says when announcing appointment 

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Wednesday 26 August 2020 00:35 BST
Chaos in Portland as protests continue

Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Tuesday that he will nominate acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to be the permanent head of the agency, a move that has been met with criticism.

“I am pleased to inform the American Public that Acting Secretary Chad Wolf will be nominated to be the Secretary of Homeland Security. Chad has done an outstanding job and we greatly appreciate his service!,” Mr Trump tweeted.

Mr Wolf has been the acting Homeland Security secretary since November 2019, taking over the position from Secretary Kevin McAleenan. The last Senate-confirmed Homeland Security secretary was Secretary Kirstjen Nielsenm, who resigned in April 2019.

Mr Trump’s announcement on Tuesday was a controversial one because the Government Accountability Office (GOA) found last month that Mr Wolf and his acting deputy Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to serve in their positions.

Their ineligibility comes as the Trump administration has failed to follow federal law dictating how specific leadership positions within the government must be filled.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) dismissed the GOA’s finding, calling them “baseless and baffling”.

“I am honoured to be nominated by President Trump to lead the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security in safeguarding the American people,” Me Wolf said in a statement. “As the Homeland faces evolving threats from natural disasters, violent opportunists, malign cyber actors, and transnational criminal organisations, the mission of DHS is as critical as ever.”

The DHS has had trouble getting positions filled during the Trump administration. As of right now, 19 positions on DHS’ website are either vacant or filled by “acting” officials.

Mr Trump has leaned on using “acting” officials to carry out his administration’s agenda in what seems to be an effort to avoid going through the Senate confirmation process.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat of New York, called Mr Wolf’s appointment an “awful choice” in a tweet when sharing the president’s announcement.

“Given his past actions, he’d be an awful choice,” Mr Schumer wrote.

DHS has had a tumultuous past couple of months dealing with the protests that have spread across the US in the wake of the deaths of black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers.

Riots in Portland sparked Mr Wolf and the DHS to send federal agents to the city in an effort to protect federal buildings like the courthouse. But the deployment of federal agents appeared to heighten unrest with residents instead of quelling protests.

Democrats have also accused the agency of using forceful tactics against demonstrators in Democratic-run cities, all while Mr Trump has boasted himself as a “law and order” president.

The announcement to appoint Mr Wolf as the permanent DHS secretary means that the president will have to send his appointee to the Senate for a nomination hearing. When that hearing would be held remains uncertain as the Senate is on recess until after Labour Day.

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