WASHINGTON – Almost a year before the 2020 elections, President Trump is running out of options in his search for a leader for the Department of Homeland Security who can win Senate confirmation or even serve as an actor, and still carry out the immigration repression of the president.
The senior White House official told Mr. Trump on Monday that two possible options for running the department, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the interim director of the agency that oversees legal immigration, and Mark Morgan, the interim commissioner Customs and Border Protection, both are not eligible for the position of interim national security secretary under federal law that dictates who can occupy secretary positions without Senate confirmation. Politician first reported the development.
Kevin K. McAleenan announced more than a week ago that he would leave as the fourth department head in Trump, nearly three years of office.
A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While Mr. Trump has never said publicly that he would turn to Mr. Cuccinelli or Mr. Morgan, it was widely thought that they were the main contenders for the job. Within months, both went from defending the administration, most aggressive immigration policies on television as experts to implementing them as senior officials of the Department of Homeland Security.
Others online for the position of acting secretary have expressed their dislike in private or face resistance from White House advisers.
The hole at the top of the extensive Department of Homeland Security is just the last personnel fight in the agency, created after the September 11 attacks to secure the country. The agency has been plagued by vacancies and has been affected by instability, as Trump has turned it into the mechanism of its distinctive campaign problem, a repression against illegal immigration, and ignored the most mundane procedures related to the policy of immigration.
The top three positions in the agency – secretary, deputy secretary and deputy secretary of administration – are now occupied by people who work as actors. The leaders of Immigration and Customs, Customs and Border Protection, and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agencies of the department that handle immigration application and policy, have also not been nominated for their positions. And the White House must now find someone legally fit to run the department, but strong enough to satisfy Trump.
“If what the president is looking for is someone who sounds like him, then not only will you not get a good policy and implementation, but you may be failing in the many things that D.H.S. I should be doing, ,quot;said Cecilia Muñoz, who was the director of the National Policy Council of the White House during the presidency of Barack Obama.,quot; What makes it an impossible job is that the president does not understand what the job entails and what authorities he has the position. ,quot;
White House personnel director Sean Doocey delivered to Trump on Monday the findings of the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice that concluded that resorting to Cuccinelli or Morgan would violate the Vacancies Act. It is stipulated that the position of secretary must go to the classified officials in the department who have approved the confirmation of the Senate. Doocey has reported that another option would be to appoint David Pekoske, who was confirmed as administrator of the Department, Transportation Security Administration, but serves as interim assistant secretary, or Chad Wolf, assistant secretary of the agency, according to administration officials.
Christopher C. Krebs, the director of the department, cybersecurity agency, has also been presented as a temporary replacement for Mr. McAleenan, but has no interest, administration officials said. Both Mr. Pekoske and Mr. Krebs have expressed to those close to them that they want to fulfill their responsibilities confirmed by the Senate instead of assuming the position of interim secretary. Some White House advisors are reluctant to elect Mr. Wolf because they believe he would be too lenient with immigration policy.
While Cuccinelli and Morgan would face a difficult path for Senate confirmation, their ardent pronouncements and their willingness to accept Trump, most extreme policies have pleased him. Last week, Cuccinelli received public support from the White House interim cabinet chief Mick Mulvaney, who said: ,quot;Ken would be good at work.,quot;
The Office of Legal Counsel, however, discovered that the next interim secretary must have served at least 90 days under Kirstjen Nielsen, the last person confirmed by the Senate in office. Trump forced her out, creating the vacancy of a chief confirmed by the Senate. White House officials are also aware that raising Cuccinelli could sow discord with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who will have to handle Senate Republicans through a trial to determine the future. from the Trump presidency if the House dismisses him.
Cuccinelli supported an effort by hard-line conservatives to force McConnell to resign and backed McConnell, main challenger in 2014. McConnell previously expressed disappointment to the White House for the appointment of Cuccinelli in the Department of Homeland Security. Cuccinelli told reporters last week that McConnell, comments were ,quot;political.,quot;
,quot;I don,#39;t know if his point of view has changed, but certainly what I,#39;ve been doing now are months removed from those comments he refers to,,quot; Cuccinelli said, referring to his past as an anti-McConnell activist.
Democrats have also condemned the hard line, who said earlier this year that the poem on the Statue of Liberty was referring to ,quot;people coming from Europe.,quot;
Trump has become accustomed to keeping National Security Department officials in acting positions as long as possible to give more room for maneuver to White House aides such as Stephen Miller, who have directed their closed-door immigration agenda. But former and current National Security Department officials have said it has led to chaos.
Once Trump finds an acceptable candidate, that person will face difficult tasks: extending his border wall 400 miles more before the election and reducing illegal border crossings, which nearly totaled one million in the last fiscal year.
,quot;It, like a baseball player,,quot; said David Lapan, former press secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. ,quot;If I,#39;m going to be judged by my batting average, great, that depends on me.,quot; The secretary cannot affect the batting average. That requires complete government. ,quot;