Acting DHS secretary says he didn't know naturalization ceremony would be part of GOP convention

Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfLawmakers slam DHS watchdog following report calling for 'multi-year transformation' Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave MORE said Sunday that he didn’t know the naturalization ceremony that he conducted last week would be featured during the Republican National Convention.

ABC’s Jon Karl pressed Wolf on whether he was aware that the ceremony, during which the acting secretary naturalized five new American citizens, would be aired as part of the GOP convention. 

Wolf initially defended naturalization ceremonies as a “legitimate role for the department to do,” saying the department conducts “hundreds, if not, thousands of them every year.”

He said he has participated in several with President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE and Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceHow to investigate Jan. 6 (and other politicized issues) without a commission On The Money: Democrats wary of emerging bipartisan infrastructure deal, warn of time crunch Pence buys .9M home in Indiana MORE and called the ceremony an “official event at the White House.” 

“But, sir, respectfully, that was not my question,” Karl responded. “My question was, did you know when you took part in that ceremony that it was going to be used that night at the Republican convention?”

“No,” Wolf answered. “What I knew is again, participating in a naturalization ceremony, we had a number of [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service] employees there, as they do every naturalization ceremony, making sure that that ceremony goes off without a hitch.”

“They were giving that oath of allegiance to those individuals there,” he added. “And again, we’ll continue to do that, because that's our mission at the department.”

House Democrats announced they would look into whether the acting secretary violated the Hatch Act by appearing with Trump to conduct the ceremony during the convention. 

The Hatch Act forbids executive branch employees from promoting political interests while on duty. 

Two of the women featured in the naturalization ceremony told The Wall Street Journal the day after it aired that they did not know their ceremony was part of the convention, although they added that they didn’t mind it being shown.