President Donald Trump fired the director of the U.S. Secret Service Randolph ‘Tex’ Alles today as part of a system-wide shakeup of senior management at the Department of Homeland Security that will soon also include the terminations of Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Cissna, DHS undersecretary for management Claire Grady and general counsel John Mitnick, according to CBS News.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen offered her resignation on Sunday and the president appointed Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, to take her place as acting secretary of the agency.
As the president has grappled with the growing crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, he has reportedly grown increasingly frustrated with the inability of top officials at DHS to handle the problem effectively.
Alles reportedly got a heads up from the White House a few weeks ago that there would be a mass overhaul at DHS and he would be one of the leaders let go. He was notified of his dismissal before the security incident involving a Chinese spy at Mar-a-Lago on March 30, according to CBS.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed in a statement that Alles will leave “shortly” and career secret service member James M. Murray will take his place in May.
“United States Secret Service director Randolph “Tex” Alles has done a great job at the agency over the last two years, and the President is thankful for his over 40 years of service to the country,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “Mr. Alles will be leaving shortly and President Trump has selected James M. Murray, a career member of the USSS, to take over as director beginning in May.”
Several Democratic presidential candidates celebrated Nielsen’s departure on Twitter:
“About time,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said, adding that Nielsen’s “legacy of tearing innocent families apart will follow her for the rest of her life—and she should be ashamed of the role she played.”
“Kirstjen Nielsen misled the American people and defended Trump’s inhumane policy of separating children from their parents,” California Sen. Kamala Harris said. “It was long past time for her to go.”
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro called Nielsen “a willing partner in the most cruel and short-sighted immigration agenda in decades,” and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand blasted Nielsen’s support for “the administration’s inhumane treatment of immigrant families” and called for “a moral reset on immigration policies.”
But, Gillibrand lamented, “We won’t get that in this administration.”
President Trump reportedly wanted to fire Nielsen back in December, but Grady, the second most senior Senate-confirmed official at DHS would have been her replacement by law, and the president was looking for someone who would take a tougher stand on illegal immigration.
Trump tweeted that he had confidence McAleenan “will do a great job!” as Neilsen’s replacement.
….I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for @DHSgov. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2019
In recent weeks, Trump has expressed growing alarm over the massive surge of immigrants heading for the U.S.-Mexico border, and frustration with his top officials’ inability to deal with the issue. Last month, he threatened to close the border, or at least large parts of it, unless Mexico did something to stem the tide.
According to some reports, Trump was closer to doing that than previously understood, ordering his top aides to shut down a portion of the border with Mexico within 24 hours.
“The president was literally hours away from sealing the border last week. Hours. But he was persuaded to delay, which gave enough time to consider alternatives,” a senior administration official familiar with the matter told ABC News. “It also allowed Pompeo and Nielsen to ratchet up the pressure on Mexico, which started taking tougher action, though they didn’t publicize it.”
A White House source with knowledge of the situation told the Daily Mail on Monday that Trump adviser Stephen Miller had “advocated internally for Nielsen’s firing, and for Alles to follow her out the door.”