Trump expected to tap Cuccinelli for new immigration post

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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation 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 MillerSenate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Schumer calls conservative Trump court pick a 'bottom crawler' 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 CruzOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families What are Republicans going to do after Donald Trump leaves office? Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators at White House 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 McConnellKavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families On The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings 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 NielsenChad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Senate paves way for Trump's next DHS chief Divided Supreme Court leans toward allowing Trump to end DACA 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 KushnerTrump administration plans livestreaming border wall construction: report Overnight Defense: Families sue over safety hazards at Army base | Lawmakers, NBA's Enes Kanter speak out ahead of Erdoğan visit | Washington braces for public impeachment hearings Bolton suggests Trump's Turkey policy motivated by personal, financial interest: NBC MORE that was seen as an effort to soften his image on the contentious issue.

—Updated at 4:08 p.m.