A third member of the Trump cabinet, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, is stepping down from his position, just days before the President leaves office.
Wolf becomes the latest senior White House official to resign after Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos both announced plans to step down last week. His resignation will be effective at the end of the day on Tuesday, a senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official confirmed to The Hill. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Pete Gaynor will step in as acting DHS secretary for the remainder of Trump’s presidency, the official said, according to The Hill.
Wolf initially pledged to remain in his position until the transition to Joe Biden’s administration in little over a week “to ensure the Department’s focus remains on the serious threats facing our country and an orderly transition.” However, he has cited the ongoing litigation that challenged the validity of his appointment as the reason behind his resignation. Trump nominated him officially for DHS secretary last August, but he was never confirmed by the Senate.
“I am saddened to take this step, as it was my intention to serve the Department until the end of this Administration. Unfortunately, this action is warranted by recent events, including the ongoing and meritless court rulings regarding the validity of my authority as Acting Secretary,” Wolf wrote. “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.”
Making no reference to last week’s Capitol riots nor about Trump at all, Wolf concluded that the department “has positioned itself for an orderly and smooth transition”.
“Serving the Department and leading the finest public servants in the federal government has been the honor of a lifetime. I did not seek this responsibility but answered the call to service as each of you have during your careers,” Wolf wrote.
Meanwhile, House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) questioned the timing of Wolf’s departure.
“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,” Thompson said. “He has chosen to resign during a time of national crisis and when domestic terrorists may be planning additional attacks on our government. Unlike others, he is apparently not leaving the Trump Administration on principle.”
“If it is true he is resigning because of recent Federal court decisions, then it is an admission that his policy decisions are indeed invalid. Under this scenario, Ken Cuccinelli must also resign,” he continued.
Wolf’s exit comes amid growing concerns about potential security threats surrounding President-elect Biden’s inauguration, with news of his resignation coming about an hour after he announced that the Secret Service would begin implementing security measures tied to the inauguration on Wednesday, which is six days earlier than originally planned. The FBI is also said to have warned the DHS of the potential for armed protests across the country beginning on January 16.