The top two officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of deputy secretary, are not legally qualified to hold those positions, a government watchdog concluded Friday.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced that Wolf and Cuccinelli got those jobs under an order (called an order of succession) that was issued by another acting secretary — who also lacked any legal authority to hold his job. That former acting head was Kevin McAleenan, who took the helm after the last Homeland Secretary to be confirmed by the Senate, Kirstjen Nielsen, resigned.
The GAO has no legal authority to do anything about it themselves. They have referred the issue to the DHS Inspector General. The IG has responded by calling the accusation “baseless.” That isn’t a big surprise considering he is a Trump ally installed by Trump himself. Furthermore, that person, Joseph Cuffari has been caught lying about his credentials. He claimed that he had a PhD. in philosophy. He didn’t.
The office has been under scrutiny as audits and other investigations have plummetted during Trump’s tenure.
A Justice Department attorney said at a Friday court hearing that the Office of Legal Counsel will review the GAO’s opinion and come to a decision on it.
The GAO’s only move now is to turn their findings over to Congress. Of course, they will likely run into more partisanship with the House looking into it and the Senate turning a blind eye — based on how both legislative bodies have acted with most things during the Trump presidency.
The Trump Administration has relied on “temporary” appointments, by and large, seemingly to avoid Congressional scrutiny. It looks like they may have gone too far with this one — but the question remains — what will be done about it?