Acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf has filed his resignation, according to a letter obtained by CNN.
He will be replaced by Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Pete Gaynor.
Gaynor will take over in the wake of the US Capitol riots and as security officials prepare for possible violent demonstrations leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration day.
“I am saddened to take this step, as it was my intention to serve the Department until the end of this Administration,” Wolf wrote, mentioning ongoing litigation questioning the validity of his appointment.
“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,” Wolf noted.
Wolf performed a key role at the department in an acting capacity for 14 months. His tenure has repeatedly been cited in litigation against the Trump administration’s immigration actions, particularly the recent asylum limits.
Wolf is the latest Cabinet secretary to file a resignation in recent days, though his letter did not mention the US Capitol riots. Betsy DeVos, who worked as education secretary, and Elaine Chao, who was transportation secretary, also filed their resignation.
House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson thinks that the timing of Wolf’s resignation is “questionable,” mentioning the issues about the legality of his appointment.
“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,” the Mississippi Democrat said, saying that Wolf’s number two, Ken Cuccinelli, should also hand in his resignation due to questions about his position.
Before his resignation, Wolf said he had asked the US Secret Service to start the National Special Security Event operations for the inauguration on Wednesday instead of January 19, saying in part “events of the past week and the evolving security landscape leading up to the inauguration.”
US Secret Service is preparing ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after a violent group stormed the Capitol.
Michael Plati, the agent leading the Secret Service’s effort, promised a “robust … presence” of law enforcement and the National Guard. This comes with a network of fencing and vehicle checkpoints to prevent potential security threats.
Plati considered last week’s violence as a “poignant reminder” of the results for any breakdown.
“We have a zero fail mission,” he noted. “We feel we are prepared to address the challenges presented by that day.”
Last week, Wolf called on President Donald Trump and all elected officials to denounce the violence on Capitol Hill.
“What transpired yesterday was tragic and sickening. While I have consistently condemned political violence on both sides of the aisle, specifically violence directed at law enforcement, we now see some supporters of the President using violence as a means to achieve political ends,” Wolf said. “This is unacceptable.”