Amid domestic terror fears, acting Homeland Security chief Chad Wolf to step down

  • By Alana Wise/NPR

(Washington) — Chad Wolf, the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, is stepping down from his role, according to a senior department official.

Wolf’s departure from the Trump administration, just days before the president’s norm-shattering term is set to come to a close, is the most recent cabinet resignation in recent days. Several others in the Trump administration have left since Wednesday, citing the deadly insurrection on Capitol Hill last week.

Wolf, who built a reputation as the enforcer behind some of Trump’s more extreme immigration crackdowns, said in a letter to department staff: “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. 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.”

The department has not had a Senate-confirmed secretary since Trump fired Kirstjen Nielsen in April 2019. Wolf has been serving as the department’s secretary in an acting capacity since November 2019.

DHS has come under legal scrutiny in recent months regarding Wolf’s enforcement of certain immigration measures and whether he acted lawfully to uphold the strict policies.

Wolf did not directly reference the violent mob that overtook Capitol Hill as cause for his departure.

Wolf had previously been nominated by President Trump to lead the department in its full capacity. But the White House withdrew that nomination last week, hours after Wolf condemned the violence on Capitol Hill and called on the president to do the same.

After the violence at the Capitol, Wolf had indicated he planned to remain in his post until Jan. 20 to help with an orderly transition of power amid the heightened security threats facing the country.

Wolf will be replaced by Federal Emergency Management Agency head Peter Gaynor.


NPR correspondent Brian Naylor contributed reporting to this story.

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