The Government Accountability Office found that the appointments of the two top officials at the Department of Homeland Security violated federal law, the Washington Post reports. GAO is referring its findings on Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and his deputy Kenneth Cuccinelli to the DHS inspector general and said that any further actions are up to the IG and Congress.
GAO, an independent watchdog agency that reports to Congress, made its findings under the Vacancies Reform Act, which governs how temporary appointments can be made to positions that ordinarily require Senate confirmation. President Trump has repeatedly circumvented the Senate confirmation process by placing people in acting positions — including Wolf and Cuccinnelli. The pair are serving under an invalid order of succession, the GAO found, because of the sequence of events following the resignation of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in April of last year. The official who assumed the title of acting secretary at that time, Kevin McAleenan, had not been designated in the order of succession, GAO said. Subsequent personnel moves also were invalid. DHS quickly issued a statement opposing GAO’s conclusion. “We wholeheartedly disagree with the GAO’s baseless report and plan to issue a formal response to this shortly,” DHS spokesman Nathaniel Madden said in a statement.