Donald Trump has reportedly fired the director of the US Secret Service in what one official has described as part of a “near-systematic purge” as the White House confirms his replacement.
The US President instructed his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to fire Randolph Alles, according to local media, which cites several administration sources.
One official described the skake-up to CNN as “a near-systematic purge”. It comes one day after the resignation of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who oversaw Mr Trump’s bitterly contested immigration policies during her tumultuous 16-month tenure, amid a surge in the number of migrants at the border with Mexico. The Secret Service director reports directly to the Homeland Security Secretary.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Monday afternoon local time that a replacement for Mr Alles had already been selected but that he would stay in his position for now.
“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,” Ms Sanders said.
“Mr Alles will be leaving shortly and President Trump has selected James M. Murray, a career member of the USSS, to take over as director beginning in May.”
The White House confirmed Mr Alles would go, but did not say whether Mr Trump fired him. Fox News reports that Mr Alles was asked to “prepare an exit plan” about 10 days ago – before a March 30 incident where a Chinese woman carrying a malware device allegedly lied to access Mr Trump’s private Florida golf club, Mar-a-Lago.
Speaking to reporters just days after the breach, Mr Trump lavished praise on the Secret Service, for which Mr Alles has been the director since April 2017.
“I would say I could not be happier with Secret Service,” he said last Wednesday.
“Secret Service has done a fantastic job from day one. Very happy with them.”
Dozens of top officials have exited the Trump administration since 2017.
In a message to Secret Service employees, Mr Alles said reports of his departure had been mischaracterised, Politico reports.
“No doubt you have seen media reports regarding my ‘firing.’ I assure you that this is not the case, and in fact was told weeks ago by the Administration that transitions in leadership should be expected across the Department of Homeland Security,” Mr Alles wrote.
“The President has directed an orderly transition in leadership for this agency and I intend to abide by that direction.”
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
Ms Nielsen and Mr Trump met at the White House on Sunday before the president announced that the Department of Homeland Security secretary would leave her post. Mr Trump also announced that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan would be appointed as her replacement.
Later, Ms Nielsen tweeted that she had submitted her resignation.
“Its[sic] been an honor of a lifetime to serve with the brave men and women of @DHSgov. I could not be prouder of and more humbled by their service, dedication, and commitment to keep our country safe from all threats and hazards,” she posted with an image of the resignation letter addressed to the president.
“Despite our progress in reforming homeland security for a new age, I have determined that it is the right time for me to step aside.”
Ms Nielsen’s resignation came amid an influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border.
Ms Nielsen had reportedly been frustrated with the difficulty of getting other departments to help to deal with the growing number of families crossing the border.
But sources told Fox News that Ms Nielsen had been viewed as resistant to some of the immigration measures pushed by the president and his aides, specifically related to protected status for some refugees and policies at the border.
On Friday, Mr Trump confirmed he had withdrawn the nomination of acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Ron Vitiello to become the permanent head of the agency, telling reporters that “Ron’s a good man, but we’re going in a tougher direction, we want to go in a tougher direction.”
Administration sources said the withdrawal of Mr Vitiello’s nomination was the first step in Mr Trump’s plan to control the border.
The second step was asking for Ms Nielsen’s resignation.