Opinions and Legal Insights

Wolf Nominated DHS Chief After His Reign Called Unlawful

President Donald Trump will nominate Chad Wolf to be secretary of the Homeland Security Department, a surprise announcement that comes nearly 10 months after he was installed to run DHS on an interim basis. The government watchdog agency called the appointment unlawful. Wolf’s long tryout period has no parallel in the history of DHS, which was created after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, reports the Washington Post. Leaders of both major parties viewed leadership stability at the department as a priority, but Trump has had five DHS chiefs. Just John Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen received Senate confirmation. Trump’s nomination of Wolf might be symbolic, with the November election just two months away and his chances of a confirmation vote unclear. A former transportation lobbyist, Wolf was confirmed as the DHS undersecretary for strategy, policy and plans in a 54-to-41 vote in 2019. The White House installed him as acting DHS secretary that day.

Wolf has earned the scorn of many Democrats and some Republicans for sending federal agents to confront protesters in Portland. Though Trump initially favored other DHS figures for the top job, Wolf has emerged as an outspoken defender of the president in recent months, delighting his boss. “I think given his past actions, he’s an awful choice,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).  The White House has faced criticism from both parties for leaving so many senior positions at DHS unfilled and for relying on acting leaders on a long-term basis. The Government Accountability Office said this month that Wolf’s appointment as acting secretary was unlawful, as was the installation of Ken Cuccinelli as acting deputy secretary.