Chad Wolf under consideration for Homeland Security top job
Posted October 23, 2019 3:44 p.m. EDT
CNN — The White House is considering Chad Wolf to replace the outgoing acting Homeland Security secretary, according to two sources familiar with the process.
Wolf, a senior department official, previously served as chief of staff to former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. He was nominated by President Donald Trump in February to serve as undersecretary for the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans at DHS, a role he currently fills in an acting capacity.
He is still awaiting Senate confirmation for the position.
Earlier this week, CNN reported the White House's personnel director told Trump that neither immigration hardliner Ken Cuccinelli nor Customs and Border Protection chief Mark Morgan are eligible to succeed Kevin McAleenan as acting Homeland Security secretary, according to a senior administration official.
Cuccinelli and Morgan were previously considered front runners for the job, but no longer appear viable options.
McAleenan announced his resignation over a week ago and is expected to depart at the end of the month.
It's unclear who else is under consideration for the top Homeland Security role.
During his Senate confirmation hearing for the undersecretary role, Wolf faced questions over his role in the administration's zero-tolerance policy that led to thousands of children being separated from their parents at the border.
When asked if he had concerns about the policy at the time, Wolf said, "My job wasn't to determine whether it was the right or wrong policy. My job, at the time, was to ensure that the secretary had all the information."
He said he agreed with the President's executive order that ended family separation. Nielsen became the face of the controversial policy, again facing tough questions over her role during a public appearance this week. On Tuesday, Nielsen said she left office because "saying no" and refusing to do things that others in the administration wanted was "not going to be enough, during a conversation at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit.
In July, Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada said she would delay the nominations of two Homeland Security nominees, including Wolf, citing "inhumane and substandard" conditions for children at the department's facilities, according to her office at the time.
The perilous conditions described at Customs and Border Protection facilities by a team of doctors, lawyers and advocates sparked a national outcry earlier this year. However, the number of people arriving at the southern border, as well as overcrowding has decreased significantly since.
Wolf worked for the Transportation Security Administration, during its inception shortly after 9/11, and again joined the department after Trump took office. He also worked for more than a decade as a consultant and lobbyist.
A senior DHS official praised Wolf, telling CNN, he is a "tremendous asset" to the department and President's mission, and is credited with "helping implement the polices responsible for countering record levels of illegal crossings and an emergency at our border."