Chad Wolf, the current acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), faces a potentially bruising time on Capitol Hill from several Democratic lawmakers who consider him emblematic of the White House’s cruelty and dishonesty. Wolf, who frequently appears on camera in defense of the president, finds himself possibly poised for an official Senate confirmation, even as more news pours in about the lawlessness of both himself and DHS.
Several Texas Democrats have warned about Wolf’s cavalier takeover of DHS. Wolf, who grew up in Plano and is a graduate of SMU, was an author of the family separation policy that called for children to be separated from their parents at the U.S. border. In June, he defended the administration’s handling of COVID-19 and a Tulsa rally that the president held with no social distancing or face mask requirement. Wolf was also a vocal supporter of the administration’s handling of protests in Portland, which saw federal officers using unmarked vans to make arrests without due process.
No other lawmaker has done more to denounce Wolf than El Paso Rep. Veronica Escobar. The congresswoman has raised numerous objections to Wolf, particularly in his role endorsing the federal government’s actions after it took violent measures against protesters in numerous cities following the murder of Jacob Blake in Minneapolis. On Twitter, she has taken to calling him a tool, vain lackey, and an errand boy for Trump.
The legality of Wolf’s role as Acting Secretary for DHS is also under question. Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced he was leaving the post in November 2019. Days later, the Trump administration named Wolf as an undersecretary of the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans. He was confirmed for this position by the Senate on a 54-41 vote. That maneuver allowed him to be sworn in as the Acting Director of DHS.
The initial Senate vote as an undersecretary was meant to quell questions of legality concerning Secretary protocols and line-of-succession rules. Last month the Government Accountability Office concluded that the appointments for Wolf (and Acting Deputy Secretary Ken CuccinellI) were “invalid.”
Still, Wolf appeared with the president in a video shown at the Republican National Convention of a White House naturalization ceremony. At least one of the newly naturalized citizens was unaware it would be shown during the Republication Convention. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint against Wolf, claiming he violated the Hatch Act.
Last month, Trump announced that he was nominating Wolf to Secretary of Homeland Security. On September 10, the White House sent the nomination to the Senate. The day before, a whistleblower came forward and alleged that Wolf and other top DHS officials told him to stop providing threat assessments about both Russian election interference and white supremacist violence.
Homeland Security denied the allegations of the whistleblower, Brian Murphy. Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has invited Murphy to testify to his committee later this month.
Rep. Joaquin Castro serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He has been critical of Wolf, especially when the Acting Secretary told Fox News there were no plans to release anyone at ICE facilities, despite outbreaks of COVID-19. “We’re not going to do a jailbreak, that’s not what we do,” said Wolf to the Fox reporter.
On Twitter, Castro responded by mentioning, “There are more criminals in the Trump administration than in those detention centers.”
After refusing to testify to the House Committee on Homeland Security, Wolf has now been subpoenaed by Chairman Bennie Thompson. In a statement, Thompson said that Wolf’s refusal to testify “thereby evading congressional oversight at this critical time — is especially troubling given the serious matters facing the Department and the Nation.”
Currently, it is unclear if the Senate will take up his controversial nomination. Sen. John Cornyn, facing a tough re-election bid, has not indicated how he will vote. He also has not said anything regarding the whistleblower allegations. In a statement to the Signal, the Texas Democratic Party affirmed their objection to Wolf: “Chad Wolf represents everything wrong with the Trump Administration and exactly what the Republican Party has become. We should have a DHS secretary that keeps Americans safe, not downplays threats of white supremacist terrorists who put us all at-risk. The Trump Administration has once again proven that they can’t keep Texans safe. It’s time to elect Joe Biden, who will nominate the best of the best and fight terrorism where it is — foreign or domestic.”
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