On Monday, President Donald Trump moved to appoint former Virginia Attorney General and anti-immigrant extremist Ken Cuccinelli to head up U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Senate Republicans have bad blood with Cuccinelli and many had vowed to block his confirmation. But Trump bypassed a vote in the Senate by naming him an "acting" agency head, a move that is of dubious legality but that the president has so far used to fill every single current leadership role at the Department of Homeland Security. Indeed, it appears as if Trump simply created an entirely new office from thin air, appointed Cuccinelli to that office, and then claimed that that office is first in the line of succession for the vacant (and Senate-confirmed) USCIS director office.
University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck, who previously blasted the appointment as illegal, sharply criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for allowing this to take place with no pushback, accusing him of allowing Trump to "run roughshod" over the Senate's powers and duties to confirm executive appointments:
One of @senatemajldr's many ... legacies ... is going to be his complete silence as the Trump administration repeat… https://t.co/PJvmt9UVHx— Steve Vladeck (@Steve Vladeck)1560202721.0
What makes McConnell's silence particularly remarkable is that Cuccinelli is one of his most vocal intraparty critics, having slammed him and his caucus for "years of empty promises" that caused Trump's policy failures on health care — which is why he did not have the votes to be confirmed by the Senate in the first place.