After Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned Sunday, Donald Trump moved swiftly to announce her temporary replacement. But, characteristically for Trump, he ignored what the law says about that.
“I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary,” Trump tweeted. The law, though, says that the deputy secretary would become acting secretary, and, because there’s currently no deputy secretary, the agency’s third-ranking position, the undersecretary for management, would take over. That would be Claire Grady.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jamie Dupree reports that Nielsen’s shift from resigning immediately on April 7 to staying in her role until April 10 is “a move which could give her the ability to help alter the chain of succession inside DHS.” It’s not exactly babies in cages, but it would be appropriate for Nielsen to end her tenure by taking one last chance to help Donald Trump do questionably legal things.
Confirmation hearings for anyone Trump nominates to replace Nielsen are likely to become a major showdown over Trump’s immigration and border policies.