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Photo: CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his acting deputy Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to be serving in their positions, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) decided in a report released Friday.

Why it matters: While the finding has no immediate power, it could be important evidence in litigation over policies enacted under Wolf and Cuccinelli's leadership, said America's Voice's Ur Jaddou, who served as chief counsel to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under President Obama.

What happened: GAO found that the administration did not properly follow federal law governing how certain leadership vacancies in federal agencies can be filled.

  • The issue began when Kevin McAleenan improperly became acting DHS secretary last year following Kirstjen Nielsen's resignation.
  • Changes later made by McAleenan to the agency's order of succesion to allow Wolf and Cuccinelli to assume their current positions thus were also unauthorized.
  • "We wholeheartedly disagree with the GAO's baseless report and plan to issue a formal response to this shortly," a DHS spokesperson told Axios.

The big picture: The Trump administration has struggled to maintain permanent leadership at DHS. It's been a record 492 days since it has had a Senate-confirmed secretary.

  • The administration has circumvented vacancies in Senate-confirmed positions by setting up temporary leaders willing to carry out President Trump's political agenda — particularly on immigration.
  • A federal judge ruled earlier this year that Cuccinelli had been unlawfully appointed to lead the immigration agency USCIS.

What to watch: GAO referred the issue to the DHS' inspector general.

  • The investigation came at the request of congressional Democrats.
  • House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) called on Wolf to "immediately step down" in a statement on the decision.

Read the full GAO report.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Nov 13, 2020 - Sports

The Woj of esports is a free agent

Jacob (right) at the 2018 Esports Awards. Photo: Jacob Wolf

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski breaks NBA news with his patented "Woj bombs." Jacob Wolf does the same thing for esports. Nickname: "Wolf bombs."

Driving the news: ESPN is shutting down its entire esports division, part of the latest rounds of layoffs the company announced last week.

18 mins ago - World

Kremlin says U.S. written responses ignored Russia's main NATO demand

Sergey Lavrov. Photo: Dimitar DilkoffI/AFP via Getty Images

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that the United States' written answers to Russia's security demands do not contain a "positive response" to the Kremlin's top priority, which is a freeze on NATO expansion, according to Russian state media.

Why it matters: A spokesperson for the Kremlin stressed that no conclusions will be drawn until Russian President Vladimir Putin has time to analyze the papers, but a lack of movement on Russia's core concerns means the crisis over Ukraine is unlikely to de-escalate.

How your plumber could lead the electric vehicle revolution

Ford Pro Intelligence gives farmers access to important data on every vehicle – whether gas-powered or electric. Image courtesy of Ford.

Businesses like farmers, contractors and delivery companies — not individual consumers — will lead America into the electric vehicle era, judging from how demand is currently shaping up.

Why it matters: While consumers are waiting on the sidelines to see if the charging infrastructure improves and prices come down, commercial businesses see EVs as a way to boost their productivity and improve operations.