The Trump administration announced yesterday that Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke will travel to Puerto Rico today, accompanied by a series of other senior officials, as part of the response to the post-Hurricane Maria crisis. Why send the "acting" DHS chief? Because the president hasn't nominated someone to actually lead the mammoth agency.
And for those of us waiting to see Donald Trump fill this key cabinet post, it looks like we'll be waiting quite a bit longer. Politico reported yesterday afternoon:
The Trump administration is hitting reset on its search for a permanent Department of Homeland Security secretary due to White House aides' dissatisfaction with the slate of candidates, according to two people familiar with the process.House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul had been considered the front-runner for the job, but he no longer is in contention, these people said.... One person close to the process said the Trump administration is now "back to square one" on the search, and it could be weeks before a final decision is made.
Politico charitably described the White House's process as "deliberate." That's not the first adjective that comes to my mind.
It has, after all, been more than two months since Trump announced that John Kelly would leave DHS to take over as the White House chief of staff. The president had apparently decided to part ways with Reince Priebus, so he lined up a West Wing successor before making the staffing change.
Trump did not, however, do the same when thinking about the Department of Homeland Security's leadership. Now we're being told the White House is at "square one" looking for a nominee. When someone will be vetted, chosen, scrutinized, and confirmed is anyone's guess.
In case anyone's forgotten, DHS has sweeping federal responsibilities, ranging from FEMA to border patrol to the Secret Service. The fact that Trump World has been slow to choose someone to lead the cabinet agency is bizarre.