Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf testifies in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Aug. 6, 2020. (DHS photo)

Trump Says He’ll Nominate Chad Wolf to Lead DHS

On Day 503 without a Senate-confirmed secretary of Homeland Security, President Trump tweeted today that he intends to nominate Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to the permanent role leading DHS.

The announcement comes days after the Government Accountability Office refused a DHS request to rescind their report that found the appointments of Wolf and Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli invalid.

Wolf, former chief of staff at the Transportation Security Administration and later at the Department of Homeland Security under former Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, served as Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Plans, Analysis & Risk and as Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Policy, and Plans when he was named to the acting secretary role after McAleenan’s departure from DHS in November 2019.

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

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

In recent weeks, Wolf has largely focused on a federal response to protesters with the department issuing “Portland Riots Read-out” press releases nearly daily.

The GAO review, issued a week ago, found that the acting secretary who appointed Wolf and Cuccinelli, Kevin McAleenan, was improperly installed in his role per the chain of succession and therefore didn’t have the authority to amend DHS rules to pave the way for Wolf and Cuccinelli.

In a Monday letter to GAO General Counsel Tom Armstrong, DHS Acting General Counsel Chad Mizelle declared that Wolf and Cuccinelli “are lawfully performing their current roles at DHS” and called the GAO report “fundamentally erroneous” with “baseless and baffling” conclusions.

GAO denied Mizelle’s request to rescind its report “as DHS has not shown that our decision contains either material errors of fact or law, nor has DHS provided information not previously considered that warrants reversal or modification of the decision.”

“DHS asserts that our decision is ‘fundamentally erroneous,’ but in doing so did not point to any facts which we relied upon that were in error or provide any new facts for us to consider,” Armstrong wrote, noting that “an agency’s interpretation is not entitled to deference unless the controlling language is ambiguous.”

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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