President Donald Trump has been notified by White House staff that he cannot hire two hardline anti-illegal immigration officials as acting secretary of Homeland Security.
The development comes as a result of a federal law governing agency succession that makes both Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Morgan ineligible.
It thwarts any chance either man has of catapulting to that position.
Politico’s Anita Kumar and Daniel Lippman report:
Instead, Sean Doocey, the White House director of presidential personnel, in recent days gave Trump a list of other officials to consider as acting secretary, including DHS assistant secretary Chad Wolf and Transportation Security Administration chief David Pekoske, according to three people familiar with the conversation.
The news has infuriated immigration hawks inside and outside the administration who had been lobbying for Cuccinelli to fill the role and now fear Trump will tap Wolf, a former chief of staff to ousted DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who once worked as a lobbyist on employment visas.
The Trump administration has been divided on the president’s signature issue from the start, with aides disagreeing on how tough to be on immigrants who arrived to the United States illegally, especially those who came when they were children.
Now, some worry that the infighting over the next DHS secretary and the issue itself could hurt Trump as he embarks on a tough reelection campaign that will largely focus again on cracking down on illegal immigration.