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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.

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.