Trump Fires Director of Secret Service After Mar-a-Lago Flap

April 8, 2019 by Dan McCue
Secret service agents stand still as U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters before departing the White House on April 5, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

President Donald Trump fired the director of Secret Service on Monday, just 24 hours after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned in the face of withering criticism from the president regarding a spike in Central American migrants crossing the border.

The administration confirmed the departure of Secret Service Director Randolph Alles late Monday afternoon through a statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

“United States Secret Service director Randolph ‘Tex’ Alles has done a great job at the agency over the last two years, and the President is thankful for his over 40 years of service to the country,” Sanders said.

The statement said that the president has selected James Murray, a career Secret Service official, to take over as director in May.

One other official, Ron Vitiello, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Services, was told he was being replaced last Friday by someone who would move ICE in a “tougher” direction.

The New York Times reported Monday that L. Francis Cissna, the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and John Mitnik, general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security, are also headed to the door.

The purge, if it comes to pass, appears to have two purposes: to remove allies of John Kelly, the president’s former chief of staff, from the administration, and to replace officials Trump believes have failed to carry out his hard line demands when it comes to border security.

According to multiple published reports, Alles was told about 10 days ago to start planning his departure, but he was assured he could leave on his own timeline.

That thinking evidently changed over the weekend.  CNN, citing multiple administration officials, reported that Trump ordered acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to fire Alles.

Alles departure was sought, in part, because of the recent arrest of a Chinese woman who carrying a malware-laced device on the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort property in Palm Beach, Florida, exposed holes in the security of the private club.

Still, Trump’s move is seen as somewhat extraordinary. Presidents rarely criticize the Secret Service, which provides protection for them and their families.

As for Nielsen, she told reporters gathered outside her Alexandria, Virginia, home on Monday that she will keep supporting “all efforts to address the humanitarian and security crisis” on the border.

She also thanked Trump for “the tremendous opportunity to serve this country” and said she’s spent the last 24 hours talking to administration officials and members of Congress to ensure a smooth transition.

Trump tweeted Sunday that Kevin McAleenan, the current commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, will serve as acting Homeland Security secretary starting on Wednesday.

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