Report: Trump Favors Reformer Ken Cuccinelli for DHS Secretary in Election Year

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump favors Ken Cuccinelli to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a crucial election year in which the agency will be tasked with completing more than 400 miles of border wall before November 2020.

“President Trump has told Republican allies in the Senate that he would like to nominate immigration hard-liner Ken Cuccinelli as his next Homeland Security secretary,” an exclusive report from NPR notes.

Trump wants to appoint Cuccinelli, the current Acting United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director, following two years when DHS was led by Washington, D.C. beltway figures, including Kirstjen Nielsen and Kevin McAleenan, who served Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

A Senate Republican staffer told NPR that Trump would nominate Cuccinelli for the job so long as he believed Senate leadership would confirm the nomination. Any torpedoing of one of Trump’s nominees in an election year, sources have said, could be met with serious backlash from GOP voters.

“Enough with the acting secretaries — come together and confirm someone who works well with the president and is totally in line with his immigration agenda,” Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) President Dan Stein told NPR.

For more than two years, DHS has been slow to execute the president’s most vital campaign promise: The construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Thus far, under the leadership of Nielsen and McAleenan, only 70 to 74 miles of border wall have been constructed — indicating that more than 400 miles of border wall will need to be constructed within the next year to follow through on Trump’s promise that 500 miles will be finished in time for the 2020 presidential election.

However, Cuccinelli is opposed by some officials who say he will not win confirmation from the Senate, and that he cannot be appointed as acting chief of DHS. “We don’t have time to waste,” said a former DHS official.

DHS policy chief Chad Wolf would be a better pick for the job, the former official said. He served as Nielsen’s chief of staff, so he knows how to get Trump’s priorities through the agency bureaucracy, the official said. That knowledge “is worth your weight in gold … Chad Wolf would be a great choice.”

Wolf’s background dates back to the early 2000s, when he worked in former President George W. Bush’s administration. Wolf eventually went to work as a lobbyist, representing NASSCOM, a leader in the outsourcing industry that uses many H-1B visas to replace American workforces with Indian workforces.

Neil Munro contributed to this report. Follow him on Twitter at @NeilMunroDC

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder

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