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DHS Secretary Becomes Latest Member of Trump's Cabinet to Resign

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President Donald Trump’s acting head of the Department of Homeland Security resigned Monday, leaving the post just 10 days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, who had been serving in an acting capacity since November 2019 and was never confirmed by the Senate, said he was compelled to leave by “recent events,” including legal challenges to his authority. He did not specify other events or cite other factors.

“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,” he said in a written message to DHS employees.

Wolf’s departure followed the abrupt resignation of other Cabinet officials after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Wolf condemned the riot, calling it “tragic and sickening.” He also said then that he would stay on at DHS until the end of the Trump administration to ensure a smooth transition.

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“For months we have known Chad Wolf has been serving illegally in his position, so the timing of his resignation from the Department today is questionable,” Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said.

“He has chosen to resign during a time of national crisis and when domestic terrorists may be planning additional attacks on our government.”

The White House had no immediate comment.

Wolf defended his tenure in his statement to employees, saying DHS had strengthened border security and successfully launched the cybersecurity agency that helped safeguard the 2020 election.

Do you support Wolf's decision to resign?

“I leave knowing that the Department has positioned itself for an orderly and smooth transition to President-elect Biden’s DHS team,” he wrote.

“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.”

Peter Gaynor, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will serve as acting head of the Department of Homeland Security until the Biden administration takes over on Jan. 20.

“Right now, our nation is facing significant challenges and it is our privilege to support the nationwide efforts to fight the pandemic and protect our homeland,” Gaynor said in a message to FEMA employees.

Biden has nominated Alejandro Mayorkas, a former senior DHS official, to lead the agency.

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Trump appointed Wolf as acting secretary in November 2019 following the resignation of Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary who took over following the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Wolf had been a chief of staff to Nielsen and an undersecretary in the agency as well as an official at the Transportation Security Administration, a component of DHS. He has also worked as a lobbyist.

The Government Accountability Office determined that neither Wolf nor his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, were legally eligible to run DHS because of a violation of the rules of succession in federal agencies.


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