Thompson and Maloney Ask for Emergency Review of Wolf and Cuccinelli Appointments

Nov 15, 2019
Press Release
Newly revealed DHS documents suggest the Trump Administration may have violated the law

Washington, D.C. (Nov. 15, 2019)— Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Acting Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to the Comptroller General of the United States requesting an expedited review of the legality of the appointment of Chad Wolf as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security and Ken Cuccinelli as Acting Deputy Secretary. 

“[R]ecently released documents suggest that the installation of Mr. Wolf as the Acting Secretary may violate the law, as Mr. McAleenan may not have been lawfully serving as Acting Secretary,” the committee chairs wrote.  “If so, numerous actions taken by both Mr. McAleenan and Mr. Wolf may be invalid, including Mr. Wolf’s designation Wednesday of Ken Cuccinelli as Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Secretary.  This designation is the latest attempt to install Mr. Cuccinelli in a senior leadership position at the Department of Homeland Security when the Administration knows that the Senate would not confirm him to that—or any other—position.”

The Comptroller General, by law, must immediately receive notice from departments when vacancies occur.  The Comptroller General must also notify Congress and the Executive Branch if an acting officer is serving longer than legally permitted.

“These maneuvers are part of a troubling pattern of legal contortions, as well as an end-run around the Senate’s constitutional Advice and Consent power.  This Administration has hollowed out Department leadership, with frequent leadership turnover and abuse of the authority to appoint temporary acting officials.  These actions place our nation’s security at risk,” the committee chairs also wrote.  “For all these reasons and given GAO’s statutory role in evaluating federal agency vacancies and FVRA issues, we request that you conduct an expedited review to resolve whether Mr. Wolf and Mr. Cuccinelli—who are now engaged in decision-making that impact the security of every American—are legally serving in the position.”

Link to full letter text.

116th Congress