Trump expected to tap Cuccinelli for new immigration post

Trump expected to tap Cuccinelli for new immigration post
© Stefani Reynolds

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump campaign buys full page ads in Miami newspapers ahead of Dem debates Trump administration's 'forced diplomacy' with Iran isn't working Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama MORE is expected to hire former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for a new top job on immigration, a White House official confirmed on Tuesday.

The exact role is still being worked out, including its specific duties, but Cuccinelli is expected to be based at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the official said. No start date has been made public but the appointment could be announced as soon as this week.

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Cuccinelli, who served as Virginia’s top law enforcement official from 2010 to 2014, shares similar views on immigration with Trump, who has been clamoring for his administration to get more aggressive in addressing what he calls a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

White House adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerTop Democrats question legal basis for appointing Cuccinelli as temporary immigration chief Five memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House Trump taps former ICE director to return as 'border czar' MORE, a vocal immigration hard-liner who helped trigger a personnel shake-up at DHS, is believed to support the choice, according to The New York Times, which first reported the move. Miller did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump has long been considering naming an immigration “czar” to coordinate his policies across federal agencies, but the official said Cuccinelli will not be filling that role.

Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, another hard-liner who was a contender for the job, reportedly turned off White House officials when he submitted a list of 10 demands in order to be considered for the post, including the use of a private jet to travel to the border and visit his family in Kansas as well as a promise to be nominated as permanent Homeland Security secretary.

Over the past few years, Cuccinelli has praised Trump on cable television but during the 2016 election he led an effort to strip Trump of delegates at the Republican National Convention on behalf of Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats O'Rourke on Senate bid backer Beyoncé: I will have to 'earn her support' for 2020 Hickenlooper, Bennet bring deep ties to 2020 debate stage MORE (R-Texas).

Cuccinelli has also angered Senate Republican leaders for his leadership of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has backed Tea Party challengers to sitting senators. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? Democrats leery of Sanders plan to cancel student loan debt GOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats MORE (R-Ky.), who was targeted by the group in 2014, urged Trump not to pick Cuccinelli as DHS chief.

The job instead went to Kevin McAleenan, a career law enforcement official who replaced Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenCustoms and Border Protection chief to step down Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Five memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House MORE last month on an acting basis.

Cuccinelli’s job at DHS is not expected to require Senate confirmation.

Trump during the past week has sent mixed signals on the issue of immigration. Last week, he announced a new visa plan authored by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerJared Kushner, Ivanka Trump to appear at fundraiser for Jim Jordan: report Trump puts the cart before the horse in Palestine Negotiators face major obstacles to meeting July border deadline MORE that was seen as an effort to soften his image on the contentious issue.

—Updated at 4:08 p.m.