The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday lamented acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf’s abrupt resignation, saying it complicates the governmental handoff to President-elect Joe Biden.
“It’s unfortunate that just with a week left in the administration that we’re losing the secretary of DHS,” acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said on Fox Business Network. “It adds to [the] difficulty of ensuring the transition goes forward. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances.”
Wolf announced Monday that he would step down, less than a week after a deadly riot of President Donald Trump’s supporters swarmed the U.S. Capitol.
In a letter to the department, Wolf said he had intended to serve “until the end of this administration,” but could not, in part, due to ongoing court challenges to the legality of his appointment as acting secretary.
Morgan said Tuesday he did not know “specific details” regarding Wolf’s decision to leave DHS.
“I haven’t talked to the secretary in detail about his ultimate decision to go forward, but it’s unfortunate we’re going to lose the secretary the last week,” of the Trump administration, Morgan told Fox Business.
Ken Cuccinelli, DHS’s acting deputy secretary, said Tuesday he had no reason to doubt Wolf’s stated explanation for stepping down.
“I certainly accept his explanation for that,” Cuccinelli said on Fox News. “He is still with the department, but he is not in the acting secretary role.”
Wolf also made an oblique reference in his statement to “recent events” as playing a role in his exit. He did not explicitly mention the Capitol riot in his email to department staffers, though an administration official told POLITICO that it was a factor.
Wolf became the third cabinet secretary to leave the Trump administration in recent days in response to the assault on the seat of government. Wolf also left not long after the White House pulled his nomination for a second time to serve as a Senate-confirmed secretary.
Wolf has led DHS in an acting capacity since November 2019, and in his note he said that Pete Gaynor, the leader of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will take over as acting secretary.
Cuccinelli said he expect Gaynor to keep that post through the end of Trump’s term next week.
Trump is scheduled to travel to Alamo, Texas, on Tuesday — his first public appearance since Wednesday’s deadly insurrection. Morgan said he had not talked to the president directly about the trip, but expects it to focus on his administration’s immigration and border-security record.
Morgan urged Biden not to unwind Trump’s policies, such as the construction of a wall along the southern border.
“You stop building that, it’s going to be absolutely part of a dangerous policy that’s in place and our country will be less safe because of it,” he said.