Trump says he'll nominate Homeland Security chief 9 months after illegal appointment

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A federal watchdog said acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was never legally able to serve in the role.

Donald Trump on Tuesday said he would officially nominate Chad Wolf to be secretary of Homeland Security. If Trump does so, he would be choosing a permanent head of the federal agency more than a year after the last Senate-approved leader stepped down.

"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 Tuesday afternoon. "Chad has done an outstanding job and we greatly appreciate his service!"

Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office — a nonpartisan federal watchdog — said in a report that Wolf's appointment to serve as acting homeland security chief in November 2019 was illegal and that he technically is not supposed to be serving in the role.

Wolf replaced Kevin McAleenan, who Trump chose as acting DHS secretary after Kirstjen Nielsen was ousted from the administration in April 2019.

The GAO said McAleenan was also illegally appointed to his role, meaning that DHS has been run by an illegitimate leader for nearly a year and a half.

Wolf's tenure as acting DHS secretary has been marked by controversy.

He brought more legal challenges for the Trump administration when he tried to block New York residents from applying for the Global Entry program. The move was an effort to extort the state of New York into turning over its motor vehicle database after it passed a law that let undocumented immigrants apply for driver's licenses. Handing over that data would give DHS data on where undocumented immigrants resided, possibly to help deport them.

Wolf also sent federal agents into Portland, Oregon, where they incited violence by beating, tear-gassing, and abducting peaceful protesters.

Because the GAO said Wolf's appointment was illegal, legal experts say the decisions he's made while serving in the Trump administration for the past nine months may not be valid.

It's unclear when the Senate will hold confirmation hearings for Wolf. The chamber is currently out on recess until after the Labor Day holiday.

When the Senate returns, it will be consumed not only with negotiating a coronavirus aid package but also keeping the government funded. Government funding is set to expire in 37 days.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.