Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, who has helped implement key elements of the Trump administration’s sweeping immigration agenda, resigned Monday as the country faces heightened security threats after an attack on the American capital by supporters of the president.
Wolf said in a letter to Department of Homeland Security staff that he intends to stay on until Joe Biden’s inauguration, but that he will step down at 11:59 p.m. Monday night.
His departure, he said, was in part compelled by “recent events” and by court rulings invalidating some of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, citing findings that Wolf was serving illegally in that country. role.
“I am saddened to take this step, as I intended to serve the Department until the end of this administration,” said Wolf, who had been in an acting position since November 2019 and was never confirmed by the Senate.
A report by the Government Accountability Office determined that Wolf’s appointment to this post violated the rules of succession and that as such he had held the post illegally. Judges have cited this finding in court rulings to overturn some of the policy changes adopted by the Trump administration during his tenure.
On Monday, Wolf cited “pending and unfounded court decisions regarding the validity of my authority as acting secretary” as a reason for resigning.
“These events and concerns increasingly serve to distract attention and resources from the important work of the Department in this critical period of power transition,” he wrote.
The letter does not explicitly mention last week’s assault on Capitol Hill, which Wolf called “tragic and sickening” in a Jan. 7 statement. In that statement, he also called on Trump to “strongly condemn” the violence that had been carried out on his behalf and pledged to remain in his post to ensure an “orderly transition” to a Biden administration. He is the third cabinet secretary to resign after the attack.
Pete Gaynor, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will take over as acting secretary of homeland security, less than two weeks before the department helps coordinate security for Biden’s inauguration at the amid heightened threats of violence and protests.
In the final act, Wolf announced that he had authorized the US secret service to begin enhanced security operations on January 13, nearly a full week before the dedication ceremony, “in light of the events of the past week and the changing security landscape that led to the inauguration ”. Before the riots, the secret service was due to start implementing special security measures on January 19.
During his tenure, Wolf was among the president’s most loyal lieutenants, eagerly stepping into the limelight to defend the administration’s actions in Congress and on cable news. This summer, he became the public face of the administration’s crackdown on protesters following nationwide protests against police brutality and racism. His decision to deploy tactical agents to detain protesters in Portland sparked a national backlash and criticism that he was subjecting the department to Trump’s political agenda.
Wolf’s resignation comes hours before Trump heads to Alamo, Texas, where he will monitor progress on the US-Mexico border wall.
“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. These are your leaders for the next four years – a time that will undoubtedly be fraught with challenges and opportunities to show the American public the value of DHS and why it is worth the investment.