Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, will resign, the latest Trump administration official to leave their post following last week’s violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, according to multiple reports.
Wolf had been a loyal member of President Donald Trump’s administration and was instrumental in enacting the White House’s hard-line border policies. But he had been serving in his role illegally for months in an acting capacity, according to a report released by government watchdogs last year.
“I am saddened to take this step, as it was my intention to serve the Department until the end of this Administration,” Wolf wrote in a letter to colleagues obtained by The New York Times. “Unfortunately, this action was warranted by recent events, including the ongoing and meritless court rulings regarding the validity of my authority as Acting Secretary.”
His resignation will be effective at the end of Monday. It comes a day before Trump is set to visit the barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Wolf is the third Cabinet secretary to tender a resignation in recent days. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said she would leave her post last week, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also resigned, lambasting Trump for fanning the flames of his supporters as she directly laid blame for the attack at his feet.
“That behavior was unconscionable for our country,” DeVos added. “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”
Wolf did not directly address the riot in his resignation letter.
The Times notes the secretary was supposed to coordinate a joint command center as part of a massive security effort surrounding President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. But his resignation will further complicate planning around the event, which will see more than 15,000 National Guard troops deployed across Washington in conjunction with other agencies, including the Secret Service.
Pete Gaynor, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will step in as acting secretary of DHS.
During his tenure, Wolf became one of Trump’s most loyal defenders, using the power of the DHS to counter demonstrators during anti-racism protests last year and continually touting the president’s effort to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.
His role as acting secretary, however, complicated some efforts to seal off America’s borders. Earlier this month, a federal judge blocked a Trump administration rule meant to close off the country to most asylum seekers, saying Wolf didn’t have the authority to impose it because he hadn’t been confirmed for his position. Other judges had issued similar rulings in recent months.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.