Chad Wolf quit as acting secretary of Homeland Security, citing court decisions ruling he wasn’t serving legally in the acting post, the Wall Street Journal reports. He will be succeeded by Pete Gaynor, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for the remainder of President Donald Trump’s term. The resignation comes as federal law enforcement readies for a fresh round of what could be violent protests around the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Wolf said the U.S. Secret Service would take over security efforts for the inauguration on Wednesday rather than on Jan. 19, as Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser requested. Wolf, the fifth person to lead the Homeland Security Department in Trump’s four years in office, assumed the post in November 2019 after Kevin McAleenan, who also served in an acting capacity, stepped down. The department hasn’t had a leader confirmed by the Senate since Kirstjen Nielsen left in April 2019.
Wolf decided to leave because of a law forbidding acting officials to continue serving if the White House withdraws their Senate nomination. Wolf was nominated in August, but the White House withdrew his nomination last Wednesday. Wolf on Thursday became the first cabinet-level official to call on Trump by name to condemn the attack on the Capitol a day earlier. DHS officials became aware of the appointment issue on Thursday. The Justice Department said Wolf could no longer be paid should he stay in the post. Wolf, a travel security official and lobbyist, joined the administration in 2017 as chief of staff at the Transportation Security Administration. He quickly rose through the agency, becoming Secretary Nielsen’s chief of staff. The White House elevated him to the top job, after determining that preferred picks, Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Morgan, immigration hawks who frequently appeared on television to defend Trump, weren’t legally eligible.