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Chad Wolf. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he will nominate acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to be the permanent head of the agency.

Why it matters: It's been more than 500 days since a Senate-confirmed secretary led the Department of Homeland Security — a record for any administration.

  • Wolf himself has served in an acting role since November 2019, taking over from acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan. Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned in April 2019, was the last Senate-confirmed DHS secretary.
  • Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office found that Wolf and his acting deputy Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to serve in their positions because the administration did not follow federal law governing how certain leadership vacancies can be filled.

The big picture: Wolf has led the department through a tumultuous period, including riots in Portland that prompted the administration to deploy DHS agents to protect the city's federal courthouse.

  • Democrats have accused the Trump administration of orchestrating federal crackdowns in Portland and other Democrat-led cities, through DHS and the Justice Department, as part of an effort to burnish President Trump's "law and order" image ahead of his re-election campaign.
  • In response to Wolf's nomination, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters in a call on Tuesday, "I think given his past action, he is an awful choice."

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Stef Kight: Although some hardliners were skeptical of Wolf’s commitment to Trump’s immigration agenda when he was chosen to lead the agency as acting secretary late last year, he has consistently been supportive of Trump— no more clearly than in his repeated defense of sending federal agents into Portland.

Flashback: Sen. Kamala Harris, now Joe Biden's running mate, grilled Wolf on the agency's deployment of federal agents in Portland during a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing earlier this month.

HARRIS: "Have you discussed deployments with any of the president’s campaign staff?"
WOLF: "No."
HARRIS: "Has party affiliations come up in conversations with anyone about the deployments?"
WOLF: "Not in my conversations. … I'm not going to comment on any specific conversations with the president."

Go deeper: Watch "Axios on HBO's" interview with Wolf earlier this month

Go deeper

Biden transition names first Cabinet nominees

Tony Blinken at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in 2016. Photo: Pool / The Embassy of the United States of America in Baghdad/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday unveiled his nominations for top national security positions in his administration, tapping former Secretary of State John Kerry as his climate czar and former deputy national security adviser Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: Haines, if confirmed, would make history as the first woman to oversee the U.S. intelligence community. Biden also plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to become the first Latino secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

CPAC Republicans choose conservatism over constituents

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

CPAC proved such a draw, conservative Republicans chose the conference over their constituents.

Why it matters: More than a dozen House Republicans voted by proxy on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in Washington so they could speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. And Sen. Ted Cruz skipped an Air Force One flight as President Biden flew to Cruz's hometown of Houston to survey storm damage.

Border Democrat warns Biden about immigrant fallout

Henry Cuellar (right). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

A Democratic lawmaker representing a border district warned the Biden administration against easing up too much on unauthorized immigrants, citing their impact on his constituents, local hospitals and their potential to spread the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios he supports President Biden. But the moderate said he sees the downsides of efforts to placate pro-immigrant groups, an effort that threatens to blow up on the administration.