White House personnel chief delivers a new blow to Trump: Top DHS candidates are not legally qualified
Donald Trump, photo by Michael Vadon.

President Donald Trump's quest to find an acting replacement for departed Department of Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen was dealt a significant blow on Monday.


The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House personnel office chief Sean Doocey has informed the president that he doesn't believe either of his top two picks are legally qualified to hold the position.

As the Journal notes, "federal statute that governs vacancies states that acting officials in cabinet-level positions must either be next in line for a position or hold a Senate-confirmed position." Neither Ken Cuccinelli, who heads the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, nor Mark Morgan, who leads Customs and Border Protection, meet those standards, Doocey determined.

Trump so far has been unwilling to put a permanent nominee for DHS up for Senate confirmation, and has instead tried to get away with installing an acting official who does not require Senate confirmation.

Now, however, the president seems to be running out of options given that his top two choices aren't legally eligible to serve on an acting basis.