Secret Service chief to leave in Trump security shake-up

The White House announced on Monday the departure of Mr Randolph Alles, director of the Secret Service, in an ongoing purge of the US immigration and security leadership.
The White House announced on Monday the departure of Mr Randolph Alles, director of the Secret Service, in an ongoing purge of the US immigration and security leadership.

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has moved to clear out the senior ranks of the Department of Homeland Security, a day after forcing the resignation of its secretary, Ms Kirstjen Nielsen, as he accelerated a purge of the nation's immigration and security leadership.

The White House announced on Monday the departure of Mr Randolph Alles, director of the Secret Service, who had fallen out of favour with the President even before a security breach at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida that the agency effectively blamed on Mr Trump's employees.

Government officials, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel changes before they were announced, said at least two to four more high-ranking figures affiliated with Ms Nielsen were expected to leave soon, too, hollowing out the top echelon of the department managing border security, presidential safety, counter-terrorism, natural disasters, Customs and other matters.

The wave of departures of officials originally appointed by Mr Trump underscored his growing frustration with his own administration's handling of immigration and other security issues.

In recent days, Mr Trump has threatened to close the south-western border altogether, only to back off and give Mexico a one-year notice in the face of warnings about deep economic damage from such a move.

The shake-up, coming more than two years into Mr Trump's term as president, indicated that he is still searching for a team that will fulfil his desire for an even tougher approach to immigration.

It also signalled the enduring influence of Mr Stephen Miller, the President's hardline senior adviser who has complained about recalcitrant homeland security officials.

 
 
 

Some of the President's allies complained that he was going too far, taking out subordinates who actually share his goals on immigration at the prodding of White House aides hunting for scapegoats for the failure to control the border as he has promised to do.

The latest shuffle came just a day after Mr Trump pushed out Ms Nielsen for not doing enough in his view to secure the border and three days after Mr Ronald Vitiello, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was told to step aside so the administration could go in a "tougher direction", as Mr Trump put it.

Officials said they expect to see the departures of US Citizenship and Immigration Services director L. Francis Ciss na; Ms Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, one of his top deputies; and Mr John Mitnick, the department's general counsel and a senior member of Ms Nielsen's leadership team. All of them were said to be viewed by Mr Miller as obstacles to implementing the president's policies.

The White House is also pressing for the resignation of Ms Claire Grady, the Acting Deputy Secretary, who under law would normally fill in for Ms Nielsen.

Mr Trump has already announced that he will install Mr Kevin McAleenan, the Customs and Border Protection commissioner, as Ms Nielsen's acting replacement.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2019, with the headline 'Secret Service chief to leave in Trump security shake-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe