President Trump has decided to hire former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II in a new role coordinating immigration policy out of the Department of Homeland Security, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Tuesday night. Cuccinelli is an immigration hardliner, but it isn't clear what his role will be at DHS. He will report to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, but he will also regularly brief Trump at the White House, the Post reports, and his duties will overlap with McAleenan's responsibilities.
Before her ouster, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had pushed Trump to create an immigration czar position at the White House to coordinate the many federal agencies that handle immigration. "Putting an immigration czar at DHS is a total waste," a former DHS official told the Post. Others predicted conflict with McAleenan, who unlike Cuccinnelli, is broadly respected by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. McAleenan was reportedly at the Oval Office meeting on Monday where Trump offered Cuccinelli the job.
Cuccinelli was tapped after former acting Immigrations and Customs Enforcement chief Tom Homan turned Trump down, the Post reports. He beat out former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whom Trump soured on in part because of a list of 10 demands Kobach reportedly handed the White House. "Cuccinelli, who has been hawkish on immigration policy during television appearances that also praise Trump, appears to fulfill the president's desire to have a forceful personality and a loyalist at the highest levels of DHS," the Post says.
But his chance of advancement is limited, the Post adds. "Cuccinelli is deeply disliked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has vowed to block Cuccinelli from any Senate-confirmed post for leading efforts in 2014 backing insurgent candidates that hurt the Senate GOP majority," and he's "even less popular with Democrats." Peter Weber