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White House announces Wolf nomination withdrawn after he says Trump should 'strongly condemn' Capitol violence

The White House on Thursday announced acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfLeft-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Sunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus ICE acting director resigns weeks after assuming post MORE's nomination to serve in a permanent capacity had been withdrawn, shortly after he called on President TrumpDonald TrumpFBI says California extremist may have targeted Newsom House Democrat touts resolution to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress Facebook to dial back political content on platform MORE to “strongly condemn” the violence that took place at the U.S. Capitol the day prior.

Wolf issued a statement Thursday morning calling the events “tragic and sickening” and said it was “unacceptable” that some supporters of Trump resorted to violence “as a means to achieve political ends.”

Less than two hours after Wolf issued the statement, the White House announced that Trump had withdrawn his nomination to be the permanent secretary of Homeland Security. The Senate was not expected to take up Wolf’s nomination before President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat touts resolution to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress Science denialism in the new administration Jill Biden to offer input on helping reunite separated immigrant families: report MORE is inaugurated later this month.

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White House spokesman Judd DeereJudd DeereHere's how presidents move into the White House in just hours on Inauguration Day Pence's relationship with Trump fractures in final days Trump stares down new impeachment threat MORE said in a statement that the withdrawal occurred on Wednesday and "was not related at all to Wednesday’s events or the Acting Secretary’s comments this morning. 

"Acting Secretary Wolf remains the acting secretary and continues to perform the duties of his office," Deere said.

Wolf, who is currently on an official trip in the Middle East, forcefully condemned the violence in the statement and said he plans to remain in his position until Jan. 20 to ensure an “orderly transition” to Biden’s administration and to ensure DHS remains focused on domestic threats.

“These violent actions are unconscionable, and I implore the President and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday,” Wolf said. “DHS [the Department of Homeland Security] takes the safety and security of all Americans very seriously — it’s at the core of our mission to defend our homeland. Any appearance of inciting violence by an elected official goes against who we are as Americans.”

Shortly after Wolf issued his statement, the White House issued a release saying that his nomination to be DHS secretary had been withdrawn. Trump nominated Wolf, who has been serving in the position in an acting capacity for more than a year, to the position last August but he was never confirmed by the Senate. 

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Wolf, who is currently on an official trip in the Middle East, had said in his statement that he planned to remain in his position until Jan. 20 to ensure an “orderly transition” to President-elect Joe Biden’s administration and to ensure DHS remains focused on domestic threats.

Wolf’s statement came on the morning after pro-Trump demonstrators breached the Capitol building in support of the president’s futile efforts to overturn the election results as a joint session of Congress gathered to certify the Electoral College votes confirming Biden’s victory. The violence convulsed Washington, D.C., and the country. Over a dozen people were arrested and four were left dead in Washington.

Trump has been roundly criticized for inciting the violence with his claims about election fraud and his unproven assertions that he won the election. He issued a video message on Wednesday calling on supporters to go home in peace but describing them as “special,” a tweet that was later removed for violating Twitter rules.

In a statement issued through an adviser after Congress certified the results early Thursday morning, Trump acknowledged the end of his term and said there would be an “orderly transition of power” while continuing to disagree with the election results.

Wolf is the first Cabinet official to publicly call on Trump to condemn the violence; others have rebuked the events but not specifically appealed to Trump.

Trump has faced demands from current and former officials to forcefully condemn the violence. Several White House officials resigned on Wednesday in the wake of the events and some officials are said to be discussing the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

— Updated at 12: 20 p.m.