Transportation Security Administration Administrator David Pekoske is expected to be named acting deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, according to two administration officials.
On Tuesday night, outgoing Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the imminent resignation of Claire Grady, the acting deputy of Homeland Security, paving the way for President Donald Trump’s pick of Kevin McAleenan to lead the department in an acting capacity. Following Nielsen’s forced resignation Sunday night, Grady was statutorily next in line to become acting secretary.
“Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady has offered the President her resignation, effective tomorrow. For the last two years, Claire has served @DHSgov w excellence and distinction. She has been an invaluable asset to DHS – a steady force and a knowledgeable voice,” Nielsen tweeted.
With Grady’s departure, DHS is changing the order of succession. The previous line of succession included deputy secretary, under secretary for management, Federal Emergency Management Administration, which does not currently have a permanent administrator, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. It’s unclear what the new order is.
Pekoske was confirmed by the Senate to lead TSA in August 2017. Last year, Congress established a five-year term for the TSA administrator. Pekoske is expected to return to his role at TSA, according to a source.
CNN has reached out to TSA for comment.
A former administration official told CNN that Grady “knew her fate was tied to Nielsen.”
“She is one of the people who got stuff done at DHS. Someone everyone went to at the department when they were having a bad day,” the former official said.
After Trump announced her resignation, Nielsen said on Twitter that she planned to stay on until Wednesday to help with the transition.
Grady’s departure comes as Trump is cleaning house in the department. The day after Nielsen’s resignation was announced, Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles was ousted, and at least two officials have been named as possibly heading out the door: US Citizenship and Immigration Services director Francis Cissna and Office of the General Counsel’s John Mitnick.
“There is a near-systematic purge happening at the nation’s second-largest national security agency,” an official has told CNN.
At least some of the sudden personnel changes come at the urging of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, who played a key role in Nielsen’s ouster. In recent weeks, the President empowered Miller to lead the administration’s border policies “and he’s executing his plan” with what amounts to a wholesale decapitation of the department’s leadership, an official has told CNN.