In his mission to appoint an immigration hardliner to lead the Department of Homeland Security, President Donald Trump has run into a problem. His top two picks for the job don’t meet the legal requirements to be made acting secretary. Neither Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, nor Mark Morgan, the acting head of Customs and Border Protection, has been confirmed by the Senate.The administration needed a workaround, and it landed on an obscure one, using an office called the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. The administration’s argument is that the leadership position of CWMD is a lower office, to which the executive has unrestrained power in its appointments.The New York Times reported earlier this week that from there, the administration thinks a nominee like Cuccinelli could be lifted to the DHS secretary position.
Friday brought news that the administration may back away from its plan and name an acting DHS secretary who more clearly meets the criteria for the job. But given the intrigue around CWMD, Mother Jones spoke with Miles Pomper, senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, about why the office shouldn’t be politicized, and why it needs a worthy leader more than ever.