The Trump administration withdrew the nomination of Chad Wolf to run the Department of Homeland Security, announcing the move on Thursday shortly after he had issued a statement calling the attempted coup at the US Capitol “sickening” and imploring the president to condemn the violence.
Congressional records show Wolf’s nomination was withdrawn on Wednesday before his statement was issued, and White House officials said the move was not connected.
“The withdrawal occurred yesterday and was not related at all to Wednesday’s events or the Acting Secretary’s comments this morning. Acting Secretary Wolf remains the acting secretary and continues to perform the duties of his office,” White House spokesperson Judd Deere said.
The nomination had been sent to the Senate for confirmation on Sunday.
Wolf, who has been leading the agency in an acting capacity since November 2019, was in the Middle East this week on a series of planned meetings with foreign leaders on security issues. On Thursday morning, Wolf tweeted a statement after a mob overran the Capitol the day before.
“What transpired yesterday was tragic and sickening. While I have consistently condemned political violence on both sides of the aisle, specifically violence directed at law enforcement, we now see some supporters of the President using violence as a means to achieve political ends. This is unacceptable,” he wrote. “These violent actions are unconscionable, and I implore the President and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday.”
In his statement, Wolf also said he would continue in his role as acting secretary until the end of the administration.
While Wolf has enforced numerous policies restricting immigration, especially those gutting asylum protections at the border, his tenure was defined by the agency’s actions in Portland, Oregon, this summer, when DHS officers were deployed to the city to protect a federal courthouse during a series of protests.
Video footage captured the consistent use of tear gas and other "less-than-lethal" weapons from officers guarding the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in downtown Portland amid a backdrop of federal officers outfitted in camouflage snatching people off the street in unmarked vehicles.
Many of the policies issued during Wolfe's tenure had come under legal challenge as advocates argued that he had not been legally appointed to his role. Federal court judges have found that he was not lawfully appointed to his position in rulings that have blocked DHS policies. His nomination to the Senate was seen as an attempt to shore up the administration’s legal case against such lawsuits.