Ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, one of the chief drivers of Trump’s hardline US immigration policies, Chad Wolf, has resigned from his role as the Acting Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Several federal judges have ruled that Wolf’s appointment was unlawful.
Wolf says his decision to step down has, in part, been driven by ‘recent events’. The acting DHS secretary resigns as America faces heightened security threats following the storming of the Capitol building by pro-Trump supporters earlier this month.
In a letter issued to staff at the DHS by Wolf, he wrote: “I had intended to remain in office until the inauguration of Joe Biden. However, I will officially step down at 11.59 pm on January 11.
While Wolf did not specifically refer to events at the Capitol building, it’s understood that his decision to leave his DHS post was driven by the riots, seen worldwide as an attack on democracy. Meanwhile, a number of recent rulings deeming his appointment to be unlawful have also played their part in his resignation.
Having served as the acting secretary of the DHS since November 2019 and never confirmed by the Senate, Wolf said: “I am saddened to take this step, as it was my intention to serve the Department until the end of this [the Trump] Administration.”
A report published by the Government Accountability Office in 2020 determined that Wolf’s appointment to his DHS role ‘violated the rules of succession.’ As a result, many court rulings were able to invalidate a number of policy changes, including US immigration changes, enacted by the Trump administration and enforced by Wolf’s DHS.
Wolf said: “Recent events and the ongoing and meritless court rulings regarding the validity of my authority as Acting Secretary are the basis on which I am stepping down. These events and concerns increasingly serve to divert attention and resources away from the important work of the Department in this critical time of a transition of power.”
Despite not directly referring to the events that unfolded at the Capitol as a reason for leaving his post, he did describe the scenes as ‘tragic and sickening’ in a statement issued on January 7 – comments that saw Trump withdraw his support for the Acting DHS Secretary.
In the statement, he urged Trump to ‘strongly condemn’ the violence that had been carried out in the President’s name, while committing to remaining as Acting Secretary of the DHS to ensure an ‘orderly transition’ to a Biden administration.
90 minutes after making these comments, the White House announced it had withdrawn Wolf’s nomination to lead the Homeland Security Department, throwing the DHS into further turmoil.
Wolf is now the third cabinet secretary to resign following the shocking events at the Capitol, amid talk that the 25th Amendment could be invoked to remove Trump from office.
The current head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Pete Gaynor, will assume the role of Acting Secretary of the DHS, less than two weeks before the department is set to help coordinate security for the inauguration of Joe Biden amid an increased risk of violence and protests.
Prior to his departure, Wolf did authorize the US Secret Service to begin enhanced security operations on 13 January – an entire week before Biden is sworn in as the 46th US President.
Before the riots, the Secret Service was set to introduce special security measures just a day ahead of the inauguration.
During his time in office, Wolf was one of Trump’s most fiercely loyal lieutenants, regularly occupying the limelight to defend the administration’s actions before Congress and the media.
In the summer of 2020, Wolf became the public face of the Trump administration’s crackdown on protestors amid demonstrations against police brutality and racism following the murder of George Floyd by an officer.
His decision to deploy tactical and US immigration enforcement agents to arrest protestors in Portland sparked a nationwide backlash and claims that he was ‘bending the DHS’ towards Trump’s political agenda.
Trump border wall visit
Wolf’s resignation came just hours before Trump was due to visit Alamo, Texas to witness progress on his anti-immigrant US-Mexico border wall.
Concluding his letter to DHS staff, Wolf wrote: “I leave knowing that the Department has positioned itself for an orderly and smooth transition to President-elect Biden’s DHS team. Welcome them, educate them, and learn from them.”
“They are your leaders for the next four years – a time which undoubtedly will be full of challenges and opportunities to show the American public the value of DHS and why it is worth the investment,” Wolf added.
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