TSA chief to temporarily fill No. 2 post at Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske will fill the role of deputy Homeland Security secretary on a temporary basis, the department announced Thursday.

Pekoske replaces Claire Grady, the former acting No. 2 at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), who resigned Tuesday amid a sweeping shakeup of DHS's top leadership.

Grady’s resignation cleared the way for Kevin McAleenan to become acting Homeland Security secretary, since by law Grady was next in line to fill the role after President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE’s ouster of former Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers The 'accidental director' on the front line of the fight for election security MORE.

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“Administrator Pekoske brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the department,” McAleenan, who officially assumed his new job on Wednesday, said in a statement. “I look forward to working with him to meet the homeland security challenges facing our nation.”

The White House engineered the reshuffle at DHS amid frustration over the department’s response to the spike in migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, which the administration has labeled a crisis.

But the purge has thinned the upper ranks of DHS’s leadership, sparking concern among Republicans on Capitol Hill about its ability to carry out its sweeping missions on immigration, cybersecurity, disaster response and securing the nation’s travel system.

Pekoske was confirmed in August 2017 to lead TSA for a five-year term. Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell will oversee day-to-day operations at TSA while Pekoske fills the No. 2 job at DHS, McAleenan said.

DHS is currently without a Senate-confirmed secretary, deputy secretary, under secretary for management, Customs and Border Protection commissioner, Immigration and Customs Enforcement director, Federal Emergency Management Administration administrator and now TSA administrator.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Francis Cissna and the department’s top legal counsel, John Mitnick, are also said to be on the chopping block.

Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles was also ousted, and James Murray was tapped as his replacement.

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller is believed to be behind the personnel changes, as he has pushed the administration to adopt tougher policies on asylum claims and family detention in order to address the situation at the border.