How Trump Could Make a Costly Mistake in Replacing Homeland Security Chief
On Friday afternoon, we got one of our biggest administration shakeups to date as President Trump sent White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus packing and replaced him with Gen. John Kelly. The secondary effect of this move, of course, is that it leaves the Department of Homeland Security without a chieftain, and it’s going to be tough to find a replacement that’s as single-minded in purpose, attitude, and discipline as Kelly.
By all accounts the new chief of staff was doing a bang-up job at DHS, and while no one can blame him for taking a promotion, we’re concerned that President Trump could be on the verge of making a costly mistake when it comes to the now-vacant Secretary of Homeland Security position. Both Democrats and pro-immigration Republicans see an opportunity here to put someone much softer as head of the department – someone who will balance out Trump’s supposedly “extremist” position on illegal immigration. In other words, someone who might be willing to talk Trump down from “the wall” and towards an amnesty-ish stance, pleasing both open borders liberals and cheap-labor-loving business lobbyists.
According to Politico, there are several top contenders for the job. Some of them would be perfect (and thus face a difficult confirmation process) and some of them would be disastrous (and thus be welcomed with open arms by the establishment).
A person close to Kelly said it’s unclear who will replace him.
But several White House and former DHS officials proffered a slate of names of possible replacements for Kelly, with Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, emerging as a leading candidate.
Other potential picks include Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who accompanied Trump on Air Force One on Friday, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration who is helping to lead the president’s controversial commission on alleged voter fraud.
Separately, department staffers have been talking about the possibility that the role might go to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to two sources with contacts at DHS, but a person close to the Trump administration said he’s unlikely to get the job.
Kobach would be an outstanding choice; he’s one of the nation’s fiercest Republicans when it comes to illegal immigration, he’s already worked closely with the president on voter fraud, and it’s known that he would LOVE to take the helm at Homeland Security. Unfortunately, he would be the very last person the Democrats (and quite a few GOPers) want in the job, potentially making him unconfirmable.
Sessions would also be a great choice, but we’re in a situation right now where it would be politically toxic for Trump to take him out of the Justice Department.
Thomas Homan is our choice, because he hits that sweet spot. He’s potentially confirmable and he’s proven over the last six months to be one of Trump’s most loyal soldiers when it comes to cleaning illegal immigrants off the streets. We think he would do a find job at DHS, though this would leave ICE in dire need of an appropriate director.
As far as McCaul, he would be the most disappointing choice mentioned. Like many Republicans, he talks a good game when it comes to immigration, but we’re not convinced that he’s willing to go pedal-to-the-metal on issues like the border wall. Trump needs someone who will defend his agenda and demand that Republicans in Congress give him money for the wall. McCaul is more likely to do the bidding of the GOP, thus weakening Trump’s signature promises in favor of a business as usual approach.
Kelly was one of the best picks of Trump’s cabinet, and it’ll be a shame to see him leave for greener pastures. It’s now up to Trump to make sure Homeland Security isn’t the worse for it.