The top two officials at the Department of Homeland Security, acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of deputy secretary, are not legally qualified to hold those positions, a government watchdog concluded Friday.
The Government Accountability Office said Wolf and Cuccinelli assumed those jobs under an order of succession that was issued by an acting secretary who himself had no authority to hold his job, NBC News reported. That former acting head was Kevin McAleenan, who took over after the last Homeland secretary to be confirmed by the Senate, Kirstjen Nielsen, resigned.
GAO's conclusion has no force of law, but the agency said it is referring its conclusion to the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general. Friday's findings could, however, be cited in lawsuits challenging DHS policies, including stricter immigration controls.