Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

President Trump elevated Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to acting secretary of homeland security following Kirstjen Nielsen’s abrupt resignation Sunday evening.

The bottom line: McAleenan has now been thrust further into the bitter escalating fight over Trump's immigration policies and put in charge of some of the president's key hardline initiatives, including a push for a long-promised border wall and a crackdown on illegal immigration.

Catch up quick
  • McAleenan joined CBP agency in 2001 and served under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Before joining the Trump administration in January 2017 as the agency's acting commissioner, he served as deputy commissioner under President Obama.
  • He is "generally well-liked by leaders in both parties and is viewed as a neutral, technocratic law enforcement official, rather than an immigration hawk," per the Washington Post. He received a 2015 Presidential Rank Award, the country’s highest civil service prize.
  • The Senate confirmed his nomination in March of last year to lead the CBP, in a 77-19 vote.
  • But his nomination was delayed for three months amid allegations of misconduct that were eventually dismissed and cleared of wrongdoing, NBC News reported at the time. Anonymous accusers reportedly alleged that McAleenan had an affair with a subordinate and sidestepped procedures to fund an immigration detention center.
  • McAleenan has been responsible for identifying designs and locations for Trump’s long-promised border wall.
  • He told reporters in El Paso, Texas, last month that the country’s immigration enforcement system along the southern boundary was at "the breaking point," as the number of immigrant families attempting to cross the U.S. border with Mexico continues to spike. He called on Congress to act, but notably did not mention the border wall.

Worth noting: With McAleenan's appointment, Trump now has an acting homeland security secretary, defense secretary, interior secretary and chief of staff.

The latest: Nielsen said in a tweet Sunday night she had agreed to stay on as homeland security secretary until Wednesday "to assist with an orderly transition and ensure that key DHS missions are not impacted."

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 12,859,834 — Total deaths: 567,123 — Total recoveries — 7,062,085Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,297,501— Total deaths: 135,155 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000 — NYC reports zero coronavirus deaths for first time since pandemic hit.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Scoop: How the White House is trying to trap leakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

11 GOP congressional nominees support QAnon conspiracy

Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.