A Judge Agreed That Chad Wolf Is Likely Serving Illegally At DHS. What Happens Next? | Talking Points Memo

A federal judge recently became the first to find that Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, was likely named to that role unlawfully.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://talkingpointsmemo.com/?p=1332155
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As Xinis wrote Friday, government lawyers subsequently went back and forth between arguing that the succession document “does not mean what it says,” that it is “non-binding,” and also that Nielsen had successfully ordered edits to the succession document before designating McAleenan to be her acting replacement.

The judge wasn’t convinced.

“Again, the Government provides no authority for this Court to eschew the plain meaning of Nielsen’s order and divine her intent as meaning something else,” she wrote.

By extension of that fact, she wrote, McAleenan’s appointment was likely invalid — as was Wolf’s and the rules Wolf instituted.

I may not be well versed in policy, or legalese but how is it legal for an out going cabinet member to name her successor, and then have the authority to rewrite the succession document? I mean if this is legal then an Secretary or Agency head can just change the rules as they see fit to name anyone the administration wants to replace the senate confirmed candidate.
So the con would be for an administration to nominate someone that the senate would find worthy to confirm. Get the job, and then resign naming the administration’s true choice of a candidate that wouldn’t get through the confirmation process in the Senate.


OT- Pertaining to DHS. The Republican Party and Donald Trump have basically given the middle finger to congressional oversight for the past four years. We are in a new era of our politics where oversight and criminal investigation can be successfully thwarted by simply refusing to appear and be accountable as all public servants should be, or by claiming that the President cannot be investigated and appealing every adverse ruling.


What Happens Next?

Absolutely nothing.


“Post deleted.”


If Chad Wolf is responsible for the hysterectomies at the border then Chad Wolf is going to be tried and he’s going to prison with the doctor who is doing the surgeries.


Given his rampant cheating and collusion with Russia I’ve long considered that Trump himself, and thereby all those he’s nominated or appointed, to be “serving” illegally. It’s for this very reason I won’t refer to him with any official title - other than Mango Menace or Orange Shitstain :joy:

As for Wolf, of course his appointment was illegal, and I’m glad that finally somebody - anybody - has recognized that.


The Griffter got caught griffting?


the rules were implemented by an acting DHS secretary who isn’t lawfully in that role.

Trump believes only losers obey the law. His followers are more than willing to hurt people.

Yesterday I heard a story about a customer service lady. Her customer had a mask, but pulled it down in her office. She politely asked him to put it back on. His response? No, and you can’t make me.

She went ahead and took care of him. After he left, she broke out in tears.

This is somebody’s mother. Somebody’s daughter. Trying to protect herself, and the other customers. But she has to put up… every second of the working day… with fear that some clod like this will walk in and infect her.

These pandemic deniers need to be locked up.


If we were still a nation of laws and the DoJ wasn’t committed to obstructing the rule of law there would be consequences. But our lawless mobster administration will shake this off as per usual and the GOP will decline to even acknowledge the demolition of our democratic institutions.


As to how it is legal, the answer is that most of these succession documents are internal policies or, at most, regulations, which can be changed through the same processes as any other policies or regulations (with varying degrees of process required).

As to your hypothetical, the answer is yes, and that is indeed almost exactly what happened here. Except that, as ever, the Trump administration can’t do anything right, and so turned an easy win into a huge liability.

Slightly more in the weeds, this is administrative law. And, without going into a painful amount of detail, Agencies are generally permitted to interpret the statutes which they implement however they want, within some VERY broad limits. However, in order to do so, they have to dot all the “i”'s and cross all the “t”'s in whatever the designated process is for making the changes you want to make. This isn’t difficult so much as it is time consuming and (often needlessly) complex. And, if you fail to follow it, the court won’t let you do anything until you do.

This is how Trump screwed up the Census case, among many others, and it is largely what happened here as well.


If Trump isn’t defeated ICE detainees will be recycled as protein shakes Cloud Atlas style.

Exactly, nothing happens. What I’d like to happen is for everyone to ignore any directives that come from DHS, and for Democrats to tell Wolf that because he’s occupying his position illegally, he can either step down immediately or they will file charges against him and if need be, refile those charges again in 2021.




I would certainly like to see that too. But, I am not too hopeful. Call me a cynical optimist.


A long stretch…


Wolf’s decisions are legally void if he didn’t have his job. All of them.


Yes it is but.


When you’re too incompetent to re-arrange deckchairs.


I’ve been wondering why someone wasn’t challenging every single decision Wolf and Cuccinelli have made. Block everything DHS does, right down to ordering lunch, until these guys are out.