Trump says Chad Wolf to be next acting DHS secretary

Trump says Chad Wolf to be next acting DHS secretary

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Chad Wolf, a longtime Homeland Security official, would be the new acting head of the department, the fifth person in the job for this administration.

But Trump’s casual announcement, made Friday in response to a reporter’s question outside the White House, temporarily created more uncertainty about who was in charge of the sprawling agency.

Weeks of speculation focused on who would be named the next leader, and Kevin McAleenan, the current acting secretary, had agreed to stay on temporarily. The department initially would not confirm Wolf was next in line, saying only that McAleenan was acting secretary.

When a reporter asked Trump directly whether Wolf was to be the next DHS secretary, the president responded, “He’s acting, and we’ll see what happens.”

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley later clarified.

“As the president has said, Kevin McAleenan has done a tremendous job. He’ll be leaving after Veterans’ Day and after he departs, Chad Wolf will serve as acting secretary in the interim,” Gidley told reporters.

The elevation of Wolf, who has served in Democratic and Republican administrations, is likely to disappoint immigration hardliners and perhaps Trump himself. The White House had been trying to work around rules that prevented Trump from promoting several political allies to at least temporarily run the agency, which carries out U.S. immigration policies.

Wolf was chief of staff to former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. He has been involved with the 240,000-person department off and on since its creation following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Wolf worked with Nielsen through many of the administration’s most challenging immigration issues but left as her chief of staff to take on another role within Homeland Security before she resigned in April.

He was nominated earlier this year to a Senate-confirmed position as under secretary of the department’s Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans. That nomination has not been yet confirmed.

He is described by some colleagues as a knowledgeable and widely respected member of the department who can carry on the president’s agenda. In a statement issued Saturday, McAleenan praised Wolf as “a proven, thoughtful and principled executive.”

But he was not initially discussed as a successor.

For weeks, various factions have been looking for legal blocks and workarounds as they sparred over who was eligible to succeed McAleenan. Federal vacancy rules that place restrictions on the position had been thought to bar immigration hardliner Ken Cuccinelli, currently the acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Mark Morgan, the current acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, from taking the job.

But officials recently identified a “loophole” in which Trump could appoint otherwise ineligible individuals by first tapping them to lead the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office — a post that is vacant.

It’s possible Wolf could take over temporarily while the work-around is put into place.

The massive department was initially envisioned as a cohesive counterterrorism operation. It includes the Coast Guard as well as disaster relief and election security. But in Trump’s world, Homeland Security means one thing: immigration.

The president’s signature issue has led Trump to focus on the department. Balancing a White House eager to push major changes with the reality on the ground is a constant challenge for the agency, and factions within the White House often cause friction on immigration.

This decision was no different. Wolf’s nomination was met with some pushback from hardliners who felt his policies aligned too closely with Nielsen’s. But White House officials did not want to bump up too closely against the laws on who can lead and when, even though many of the department’s leaders are not in permanent positions.

Just Posted

An incredible closing ceremony capped off the 2019 Canada Winter Games. (File photo by SUSAN JUDGE/2019 Canada Winter Games)
2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund Society hands out $655,000

35 not-for-profit groups across Alberta to get money

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and chief executive officer of Alberta Health Services, says COVID ICU patients have increased by more than 100 per cent in the past month. (Photo by The Government of Alberta)
Record number of people in ICU: says AHS president

The head of Alberta Health Services says hospital staff are treating more… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon Wheat Kings, the team announced Monday. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer Rebels acquire goaltender Connor Ungar, forward Liam Keeler in separate trades

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon… Continue reading

Alexander Michael Talbot, 29, was found guilty of operating a vehicle while prohibited, flight from police and vehicle theft in Red Deer provincial court recently. (Advocate file photo)
Man charged following police chases in central Alberta last summer is sentenced

Alexander Michael Talbot sentenced to 22 months in prison

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo is glad the Alberta government is investing $2 million to help the province’s live music industry, but he would have liked the criteria to be expanded, so the money could be used as relief to cover revenue shortfalls. (Contributed photo by Cory Michaud)
Red Deer musicians welcome $2M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, exile Tibetans use the Olympic Rings as a prop as they hold a street protest against the holding of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Dharmsala, India. Groups alleging human-rights abuses in China are calling for a full boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which is sure to ratchet up pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors, and sports federations. A coalition of activists representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others, issued a statement Monday, May 17, 2021 calling for the “full boycott,” eschewing lesser measures like “diplomatic boycotts" and negotiations with the IOC or China. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia, File)
AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

Canada's Eric Lamaze riding Fine Lady 5 during the CP International competition at the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. Canada's most decorated show jumper has withdrawn from consideration for the Tokyo Olympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze withdraws from Tokyo short list

Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze withdraws from Tokyo short list

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse questions a foul call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday, April 26, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. Nurse says it was the COVID-19 outbreak in March that spiked his team's chances for a post-season run.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Chris O'Meara
Nurse faces a busy off-season, much busier if Canada qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Nurse faces a busy off-season, much busier if Canada qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Danielle Goyette speaks to reporters during a press conference in Toronto on Friday, November 10, 2017. Goyette has been named director of player development for the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and their American Hockey League affiliate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette together again on Toronto Maple Leafs staff

Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette together again on Toronto Maple Leafs staff

Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal (11) falls on Nashville Predators center Yakov Trenin (13) during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, May 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Staal, Niederreiter lift Hurricanes past Predators 5-2

Staal, Niederreiter lift Hurricanes past Predators 5-2

Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20) watches the puck get past Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) on a shot by Washington Capitals right wing Garnet Hathaway during the first period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Monday, May 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Marchand scores in OT, Bruins beat Capitals to even series

Marchand scores in OT, Bruins beat Capitals to even series

Toronto Maple Leafs former players Darryl Sittler, centre, Johnny Bower, centre right, are joined by Ted Kennedy's son Mark for a ceremonial puck drop with Montreal Canadiens' Andrei Markov, left, and Toronto Maple Leafs' Dion Phaneuf, right, before NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, October 8, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Leafs, Canadiens legends eagerly awaiting playoff series

Leafs, Canadiens legends eagerly awaiting playoff series

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Western MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

Western MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

Most Read