Recently resigned Homeland Security leader Chad Wolf said President Trump and his supporters are each partly responsible for causing a riot at the U.S. Capitol last week.
“He’s the president. What he says matters,” Wolf told CNN in an interview released Wednesday afternoon. “People listen to him — particularly supporters of his, I would say, really listen to him — so, there is responsibility there.”
Wolf said it is up to Congress to decide if Trump’s actions are impeachable. Wolf’s resignation earlier this week means there is no possibility that he would have to vote with other Cabinet members if the 25th Amendment were to be invoked, as demanded by House Democrats.
Wolf, 44, took to Twitter hours after the attack last Wednesday, calling for rioters to be held accountable, but he did not ask Trump to step in. On Thursday, he called on Trump to take a harsher stance on the attack.
“What transpired yesterday was tragic and sickening. While I have consistently condemned political violence on both sides of the aisle, specifically violence directed at law enforcement, we now see some supporters of the president using violence as a means to achieve political ends,” Wolf said. “I implore the president and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday.”
The White House announced an hour later that it was pulling Wolf’s nomination.
“I was disappointed that the president didn’t speak out sooner on that. I think he had a role to do that,” said Wolf. “Unfortunately, the administration lost a little bit of the moral high ground on this issue by not coming out sooner on it.”
In an internal email Wolf sent employees four days later on Monday afternoon, he revealed he was resigning that day. He cited rulings by federal judges, including one last week, as his reason for leaving office nine days before the end to Trump’s term.
“As I talked with the attorneys and we talked with the Department of Justice and others, there was no light at the end of the tunnel. There was no avenue to really fight this,” Wolf said. “I wanted to make sure that they had an acting secretary that could make certain decisions. Just in the last eight days alone, there’s going to be a lot of decisions that need to be made, whether internally or externally. I didn’t want all those decisions to be litigated.”
President Trump nominated Wolf to head the 250,000-person department in August, but the Senate never voted to confirm him. Wolf became acting secretary in November 2019 following the departure of acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan.
President-elect Joe Biden has selected Alejandro Mayorkas to replace Wolf next week. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Pete Gaynor was temporarily promoted to oversee the DHS until Biden is sworn in.