After seemingly favoring either of his current immigration heads Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Morgan as his new homeland security secretary, Trump was reportedly informed neither will be allowed to take the job without Senate approval. That's because an opinion out of the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel blocks acting heads from ascending to lead a Cabinet department, The Wall Street Journal reports and CNN confirms.
As it stands, Cuccinelli is the acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Morgan is the acting leader of Customs and Border Protection. They, along with recently resigned DHS acting head Kevin McAleenan, all got their jobs when Trump pushed out Kristjen Nielsen as the head of the department in April.
But in order to rise to replace McAleenan without a Senate vote, they'd have to "either be next in line for a position or hold a Senate-confirmed position," OLC opinion says. Cuccinelli or Morgan could also get the job if they'd served "at least 90 days in the past year under the previous secretary," the Journal writes. The last full-time secretary was technically Nielsen, and Cuccinelli or Morgan didn't work long enough under her, Sean Doocey, head of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, reportedly told Trump in a Friday meeting.
White House Counsel Don McGahn is going to leave the White House in the fall, probably after the midterms or the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, top White House officials and sources close to McGahn tell Jonathan Swan and Mike Allen at Axios. McGahn's likely successor is Emmet Flood, who is helping President Trump in the Russia investigation.
Flood, who worked for former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment, is seen as less accommodating than McGahn, and sources tell Axios that "Flood has — as well as any lawyer can — figured out how to talk to Trump. The president focuses his attention when Flood talks to him: Trump reacts to the authority Flood carries as a heavyweight lawyer handling the topic that potentially poses an existential threat to the Trump presidency."