Skip to content
August 21, 2020

Thompson and Maloney Release Statement After GAO Reaffirms Decision that Trump’s Top DHS Appointments Were Illegal

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reaffirmed its August 14 decision regarding President Donald Trump’s illegal appointments of Chad Wolf as the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security and Ken Cuccinelli as the Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Secretary.

Previously, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, requested GAO conduct an emergency review of the legality of these appointments. After GAO released its decision last week, the Department of Homeland Security asked GAO to reconsider and rescind its decision, while also attacking the agency. 

Chairs Thompson and Maloney issued the following statement today:

“We are pleased that GAO was able to quickly review its legal decision and reaffirmed that the Administration violated the law when it installed Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli to run the Department of Homeland Security. We continue to stand by GAO’s rigorous and nonpartisan fact-based work. We hope that DHS will accept this decision and cease its petty, politically motivated attacks on the agency, which are wholly without merit.  If only the Department responded to the nation’s problems – including the ongoing pandemic – with the same zeal and speed it attacked this decision, perhaps the country would be in a much better state than it is in now. 

“We continue to call on Mr. Wolf step down from his position and for Mr. Cuccinelli to resign from Federal service entirely. We also continue to call on the President to appoint an apolitical career official to run the Department temporarily and follow the Constitution by swiftly nominating a permanent Secretary.

“We look forward to the DHS Office of Inspector General’s swift review of the legality of the long list of official actions taken by these officials.”

Key findings from GAO:

  • “The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) request that we rescind our August 14, 2020, decision is denied, as DHS has not shown that our decision contains either material errors of fact or law, nor has DHS provided information not previously considered that warrants reversal or modification of the decision.”
  • “Our August 14, 2020, decision and all of our written products represent the work of numerous professionals, each taking care to remain independent and mindful of GAO’s obligation to provide nonpartisan service to the American people. All GAO products also undergo a multi-level review to assure they are intellectually sound and free from bias. Rather than trying to reach a particular conclusion, our legal decisions, this one included, are the result of a dispassionate application of the relevant law to facts, not advocacy, and are subject to rigorous legal review and signature of GAO’s General Counsel.”

Link to Decision

Link to previous press release on GAO's August 14 Decision

#  #  #

Press Contact

(Thompson) Adam Comis, 202-225-9978
(Maloney) Aryele Bradford, 202-226-5181