TSA head rules himself out for top DHS job  

TSA head rules himself out for top DHS job  
© Getty

The top Senate-confirmed official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has ruled himself out of contention to succeed acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

Transportation Security Administrator David Pekoske, who has been assigned as the senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary under McAleenan, told DHS officials he wants to return to his role as head of TSA, The Hill has learned.

ADVERTISEMENT

The two officials in contention to replace McAleenan are acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli and Chief Operating Officer and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan, according to a DHS official with knowledge of the situation.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE announced McAleenan's departure last Friday, saying he would nominate a new secretary this week.

McAleenan was Trump's fourth Homeland Security secretary, and the second to hold the job on an acting basis.

Previously, Elaine DukeElaine Costanzo DukeChad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Senate paves way for Trump's next DHS chief Five things to watch at Supreme Court's DACA hearings MORE was acting secretary after the resignation of John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, but she formally held the deputy secretary role that Pekoske performed as a senior official.

The deputy secretary is first in line to perform the duties of secretary in case of vacancy, according to DHS regulations.

Trump in February said he likes having acting cabinet members, as it gives him more flexibility.

Cuccinelli is not expected to be confirmed by the Senate if nominated.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former Trump advisor Bossert says to test the well, not ill; Senate standoff on next relief bill McCarthy slams Democrats on funding for mail-in balloting Harris, Ocasio-Cortez among Democrats calling for recurring direct payments in fourth coronavirus bill MORE has expressed his distaste for the former Virginia attorney general, who once ran a PAC that funded a primary challenger against McConnell.