Say goodbye to Acting Department of Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan who, like other Trump officials before him, suddenly feels the need to “spend more time with his family”.
McAleenan – who replaced Kirstjen Nielsen after she was finally fired in April – has been subjected to his fair share of ridicule for participating in the administration’s cruel border crackdown.
Just this week, for example, Kevin was compelled to leave the stage at Georgetown University’s law school, where protesters held up signs reading “hate is not normal” and chanted pro-immigrant slogans.
That’s how things have been going for McAleenan lately.
And he had clearly had enough anyway. In a recent Washington Post interview that enraged Trump loyalists and immigration hardliners, McAleenan lamented the extent to which he has been unable to shape the narrative or otherwise override fanatics who were installed in Stephen Miller’s purge after Nielsen was banished.
“What I don’t have control over is the tone, the message, the public face and approach of the department in an increasingly polarized time”, McAleenan told the Post. “That’s uncomfortable, as the accountable, senior figure”.
That was on October 1, and it effectively marked the end for McAleenan. Trump made it official on Friday night.
“Kevin McAleenan has done an outstanding job as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down”, Trump said, in the by-now- familiar setup to announcing a high-profile departure. “Kevin, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector”.
The president says he’ll name a new acting DHS head soon, but it’s not clear who it would be. “Under the Vacancies Act, which stipulates that the position must go to certain ranked officials in the department, none of [Trump’s] hardliners can immediately succeed McAleenan”, The New York Times writes. “[Ken] Cuccinelli would face strong opposition from the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, for his political efforts to back insurgent Senate candidates, including one challenging McConnell”. Oops.
The irony here is that Kevin was, in fact, successful in his position – and wildly so.
As the Post wrote of Kevin last week, “the monthly border arrest numbers that gauge migration flows have plunged by two-thirds, an array of new physical and administrative barriers are going up [and] the migration crisis that was potentially a major liability to Trump’s reelection bid has abated”.
And yet, Trump prizes loyalty and fealty over everything – even results.
So, McAleenan had to go. Indeed, he was never even nominated to stay in the DHS position permanently despite his demonstrable success and despite the fact that his odds of being confirmed were high – for a Trump nominee, anyway.
In April, shortly after Nielsen was unceremoniously ousted along with Secret Service director “Tex” Alles, and around the time Miller was busy making “intimidating” phone calls to officials at DHS, Justice and State, reports indicated that Miller had pushed for a plan to round up immigrants and “bus” them to sanctuary cities.
A day later, Trump was rumored to have instructed McAleenan to close the border even if it meant breaking the law — apparently, Trump dangled a pardon in front of Kevin, although the president would later insist that never happened.
If you read the Post’s interview, it becomes crystal clear why Kevin wasn’t a good fit. It wasn’t so much his seeming commitment to honest public service, or Trump’s sycophants accusing him of being a “Democrat” and an “Obama guy”.
Rather, it was because even as he advanced Trump’s hardline agenda, he didn’t view immigrants as insects, or animals. McAleenan, the Post said, “avoids the term ‘illegal aliens,’ speaking instead of ‘migrants’ and ‘vulnerable families'”.
“I think the words matter a lot”, he told WaPo.
Need we say more?