As Trump looks to fill the DHS secretary position, will he risk a Senate confirmation showdown to push his agenda, or look to appease the GOP?
by Jay Lorenz
Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly assumed his role as Chief of Staff just over a week ago. Kelly takes over for the weakest high-ranking member of the Trump administration, Reince Priebus (better known as “Rinse Penis”). While he has his warts, Kelly has been key to carrying out the Trump agenda on immigration, the Muslim ban, and terrorism. Instead of the disloyal and incompetent Priebus, Trump will have a strong former general at his right hand. It remains to be seen how Kelly performs, but he should bring a degree of loyalty and discipline to the office that has been sorely lacking. While Kelly may be flawed, he is a massive upgrade on the weaselly Priebus.
The pressing question now: who will replace Kelly at DHS? Trump will presumably make a choice in the very near future. This is a key position, due to the responsibilities in regard to immigration and travel into America. Trump needs to ace this decision in order to keep the positive momentum he gained by firing Priebus. Many names have been floated for the job, but five seem to have emerged as consensus finalists: House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) , Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) director Eric Homan, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
McCaul would be the safe, conservative choice. He is the favorite of Senate Republicans, and would easily get the fifty votes needed to be confirmed by the Senate (Vice President Pence can break any tie), likely picking up many votes from Democrats in the body as well. McCaul came out in support of the wall after the election, and introduced an immigration bill two weeks ago which allocates $10 billion for the wall and adds 5,000 additional border agents. However, soft positions on other immigration issues, including legal immigration, guest worker programs, deporting so-called “non criminal” aliens, and the Muslim travel ban, make him an uninspiring pick. We have become accustomed to seeing Trump make concessions to the GOP on decisions like these for the sake of good will and expediency. For every favorable appointment he makes, he makes an unfavorable one—for every Bannon, there is a Priebus and so forth. McCaul would be a mediocre choice at best and a concession to a GOP that has done absolutely nothing for the president. If Trump picks McCaul, it shows he is still tethered to the cuckservatives in the GOP, and isn’t the unshackled Trump many were hoping to see after the most recent GOP failure on healthcare.
Rick Perry has been mentioned as a serious candidate by multiple outlets. In my view, he has the worst chance of any of the finalists, however. Perry is just as weak, if not weaker on immigration than McCaul. Perry suffered in his 2012 presidential run due to his pro-immigrant positions, and has advanced legislation as the governor of Texas which allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at universities. This would be a woefully unpopular pick with Trump’s base. Perry was notoriously under qualified for his position at the Department of Energy—which has been staffed by a long list of PhD’s and brilliant intellects—and is widely seen as ineffective. It is unlikely that Trump sees him as a star of the administration, worthy of moving into one of the top posts. His greatest asset in landing the job is thought to be his experience with immigration as the governor of Texas. However, that experience includes presiding over a massive non-White demographic shift and doing nothing to stop it. Although Perry would be a welcome choice by Senate Republicans and would be confirmed easily, McCaul would be the more logical choice if Trump is trying to avoid a confirmation battle.
If Trump wants to push his agenda and not the floundering GOP’s, he should consider his other options.
Thomas Homan, the ICE director, would fit the bill well. A former Obama appointee and a 33-year law enforcement veteran, Homan has been effective as the head of ICE. From January 22 to April 29, ICE arrested 41,318 people, compared with 30,028 during the same span in 2016. Not only that, use-of-force instances are up 150 percent, meaning Homan is willing to do what is necessary to clean up the country. Homan has promised to break the deportation record of 409,849 set in 2012, increase work site enforcement on companies using illegal labor, and has come out strongly against sanctuary cites, saying he is looking into charging the leaders of sanctuary cities with violating federal code 8 U.S.C. 1324 which outlaws attempts to “conceal, harbor or shield” illegal immigrants. In testimony to the House Appropriations Committee, Homan said “If you’re in this country illegally and you committed a crime by being in this country, you should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder. You need to be worried.” Making immigrants uncomfortable is key to getting them to leave the country. Homan has shown that he understands the issue well and is willing to do what it takes to enforce immigration law. Because of the baggage of Kobach and Sessions, Homan also has the third highest likelihood of getting Senate confirmation, making him a possible compromise choice between the GOP and Trump.
Kobach is likely the most hard line of the candidates. He currently serves as Kansas Secretary of State and vice chairman of the presidential commission on voting which investigates voter fraud. Kobach frequently refers to himself as “the ACLU’s worst nightmare.” The ACLU files regular lawsuits against him, which Kobach defends himself. Kobach is most well-known for his efforts to secure fair and lawful elections. His signature piece of legislation is the Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) act, a Kansas state law which requires voters to show a birth certificate, passport, or naturalization papers in order to register. He has advocated for these common-sense ID laws on a national level. On his radio show, Kobach has expressed concern that immigration will lead to the ethnic cleansing of Whites, and he has written many laws which show his desire to protect the historical American nation. After his meeting with President Trump to audition for a cabinet role two weeks after the election, Kobach was photographed with a partially obscured document that advised the president to include “extreme vetting,” tracking “all aliens from high-risk areas,” reducing “intake of Syrian refugees to zero,” deporting a “record number of criminal aliens in the first year,” and a “rapid build” of the wall as components of his policy. The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Trump wanted to appoint Kobach as deputy to Kelly at DHS, but Kelly did not want Kobach due to his hard line stances and blocked the appointment. Although a great candidate, Kobach would have a tough time getting by the Senate due to his pro-American stances. If Jeff Sessions had such a tough time getting confirmed due to charges of racism, a man with Kobach’s pro-White record will certainly be tested. It all depends on how many cuckservatives are willing to sabotage Trump and his agenda.
Moving Sessions from the Department of Justice to DHS is another intriguing choice. Sessions’ anti-immigrant reputation is legendary, as he has spent over twenty years in the Senate voting on the reduction of immigration, and was denied a judgeship during the Reagan administration due to accusations of racism. This move would allow Sessions to do his anti-immigrant magic at DHS, while also making his Russia investigation recusal a non-factor. Trump has expressed extreme displeasure at the recusal, so this option is likely enticing to him. At attorney general, Trump could appoint a loyalist who will deliver him a favorable outcome on the Russia investigation. Choices could include Kobach, who holds a law degree from Yale, and many others who would be willing to wade into the Russian investigation in exchange for the job, like Rudy Giuliani. However, the Sessions choice would be the most politically difficult. Democrats are sure to near-unanimously oppose it (the only Democrat to vote for Sessions’ AG confirmation was Joe Manchin from West Virginia), and at least some cuckservatives will consider opposing it, including Lindsey Graham who called it a “bad idea.” Graham and dying Arizona Senator John McCain are both likely to vote against it, meaning only one more Republican would need to turn their back in order for the nomination to be shut down. With the context of the Russia conspiracy theory investigation looming over the proceedings, chances are that some Republicans will blink. Even if Sessions is confirmed, there is no guarantee a sound replacement would be. In an ideal situation, Sessions moves to DHS and Kobach becomes attorney general. However, in this political climate, Trump may have to look at his other options.