Secret Service Chief Out as Part of DHS Shakeup

The tumultuous turnover at the top of the Trump team is too much.

As Steven Taylor posted, President Trump ousted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen yesterday afternoon. That move was apparently just the beginning.

This afternoon, news began to circulate that the Secret Service director was out as well.

U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph Alles is soon to be out of his job.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that 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.”

Alles “will be leaving shortly,” Sanders said, adding that President Donald Trump ”has selected James M. Murray, a career member of the USSS, to take over as director beginning in May.”

An initial report from CNN cited multiple administration officials saying Trump had instructed his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to fire Alles. A source, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss Alles’ departure, told CNBC that the Secret Service chief had been asked to submit an exit plan 10 days ago.

In an internal email sent to USSS staff reported Monday afternoon by CNN’s Jim Acosta, Alles insisted that he had not been fired. Rather, Alles wrote that he was “told weeks ago by the administration that transitions in leadership should be expected across the Department of Homeland Security.”

CNBC, “Randolph Alles is out as Trump’s Secret Service chief”

I didn’t think much of it. Alles is hardly a household name, after all.

But then the other shoe dropped: it appears to be part of a larger shake-up.

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller wants to make sure that outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is only the first of a string of senior officials headed out the door, as he is given more authority over immigration policy.

The President has also pushed in recent weeks to reinstate the family separation policy, which Nielsen resisted, a source familiar with the discussions says. Trump rescinded that policy amid public outrage and scrutiny from the courts last summer.

Miller’s heightened influence within the West Wing has been aided by the President, who recently told aides in an Oval Office meeting that Miller was in charge of all immigration and border related issues in the White House, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

Trump administration officials say that Miller, who played key a role in Nielsen’s ouster, wants the President to dismiss the director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Lee Cissna, and the department’s general counsel, John Mitnick. United States Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles, is also being removed from his position, multiple administration officials tell CNN.

“There is a near-systematic purge happening at the nation’s second-largest national security agency,” this official says.

CNN, “Stephen Miller wants Trump to oust more senior leaders at Homeland Security”

I have no idea who the “official” is, much less what their agenda might be. “Purge” is a rather ominous word.

Presidents have every right to replace appointees with whom they’re dissatisfied. “I serve at the pleasure of the President” is a cliche because it’s true. And, certainly, many Presidents have conducted shake-ups of under-performing cabinet departments.

Still, this administration has had an unusually high degree of turnover in top national security posts. Just a bit over two years in, we’re on our third National Security Advisor, third White House Chief of Staff,* second Secretary of State, and are awaiting our third Secretary of Homeland Security* and second Secretary of Defense. And that’s to say nothing of turmoil at slightly lower levels.

*In fairness, this is double-counting John Kelly, who was Trump’s first Secretary of Homeland Security and second Chief of Staff.

FILED UNDER: National Security
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. drj says:

    many Presidents have conducted shake-ups of under-performing cabinet departments.

    Oh, come on. Nielsen was fired because even though she was OK with needless cruelty, she didn’t want to break the law:

    Trump, however, was insistent that his administration begin taking another action — denying asylum seekers entry. Nielsen tried to explain to the President that the asylum laws allow migrants from Central America to come to the US and gain entry. She talked to the White House counsel to see if there were any exceptions, but he told her that her reading of the law was correct.

    Also:

    Behind the scenes, two sources told CNN, the President told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don’t have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, “Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.”

    After the President left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.

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  2. CSK says:

    The great irony is, of course, that Trump–or Miller, apparently at Trump’s behest–is purging the administration of people that Trump himself appointed. It’s even more ironic that the Trumpkins are cheering that their savior is “draining the swamp.” A swamp Trump himself filled.

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  3. Jen says:

    That Stephen Miller is potentially behind all of this is a bit disturbing. He seems more than a bit off to me, and these are actually important posts.

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  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @drj:

    Behind the scenes, two sources told CNN, the President told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don’t have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, “Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.”
    After the President left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.

    This is amazing to me…and yet Rule-of-Law Republicans are all like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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  5. Kathy says:

    “Purge” is a rather ominous word.

    Rather accurate, too.

    It may not be for regime survival, as in the days of Stalin, or personal survival, as in the days of Stalin, but it’s a massive removal of politically unreliable people at all levels.

    I invite you to ponder what it means when the woman who voluntarily split up families and put children in cages for this clown in chief, is deemed not reliable enough.

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  6. drj says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Rule-of-Law Republicans

    You forgot the sarcasm font.

    The Republican idea of rule of law is driving a tank into someone’s* house and killing his puppy.

    (You thought I was joking? Nope.)

    * If melanin levels permit.

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  7. Stormy Dragon says:

    For those keeping score at home, the Department of Homeland Security currently has:

    No Secretary
    No Deputy Secretary
    No Secret Service director
    No ICE director
    No FEMA director
    No Customs and Border Protection Commissioner
    No Inspector General

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  8. Jax says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m feeling like my Homeland is not very secure, and it’s not the migrant families seeking asylum who are making me feel that way. It’s the runaway clown train in the White House.

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  9. Scott says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I don’t know which of these positions have to be congressionally approved but it has been suggested that by keeping just “Acting” officials, Trump figures that he doesn’t have to go through that process. They are, however, responsive to oversight by Congress.

    Hate to be a conspiracist but Trump is full on breaking norms. He can just say no to Congress. On oversight, on testimony, on any kind of accountability. Congress talks a good game but they will never reclaim their constitutional authority.

    I’m a pessimist today so I’ll leave this quote: “The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away. “

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  10. Kathy says:

    It seems Trump is planning something really atrocious, literally, at the border, and it should happen soon.

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  11. mattbernius says:

    Its increasingly becoming clear that Mulvaney, Miller, and Bolton are proving themselves to be the most effective people at managing Trump to get their agendas put into place. I cannot articulate how scary this is to me (and others who have followed their careers).

    (Kushner probably should be included in there as well, which is concerning for those who don’t trust the Saudis).

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  12. An Interested Party says:

    I don’t know about anybody else, but I’d prefer to have Central American immigrants coming into our country to make better lives for themselves and their families rather than having this trash in the White House…the former is much better for our country than the latter…it’s not a very good idea to have our immigration policy being decided by some creepy loser who constantly got beat up in grade school…

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  13. Jax says:

    And what are they doing with all those kids? Call me paranoid, and tell me I’ve seen/read too many science fiction movies and books, but an army of children completely dependent on THIS administration, that they mysteriously “can’t find” to reunite with their parents? Trump doesn’t even see migrants as humans, they’re “animals”, in his own words.

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  14. Teve says:

    @mattbernius: is Trump’s message a year from now going to be that we can’t change presidents in the middle of the new war with Iran?

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  15. An Interested Party says:

    is Trump’s message…

    Speaking of which, it’s funny how so many of his messages/directives/desires are the perfect cudgels for Democrats to beat up Republicans with…it’s almost like he’s a Democratic plant…

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  16. Kathy says:

    CNN is reporting Trump wants to separate all migrant families, regardless of how they come in or where they are aprehended. Apparently because he thinks this would be the only deterrent.

    Of course, such things are against the law, and they violate treaties, not to mention that illegally entering the country is a misdemeanor and not a felony. It’s like putting people in jail for speeding or jaywalking.

    Seriously, you need to get rid of this person while you still have a country left.

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  17. The fact that these moves seem to indicate increased influence by Miller in particular is distressing–extremely so.

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  18. Slugger says:

    Why fire the Secret Service guy? Does Trump feel that his personal security is being handled improperly? Has there been an upsurge in counterfeiting?

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  19. Kathy says:

    @Slugger:

    Haven’t you heard? There are color copiers now. You can copy any bill as many times as you want!

    Completely serious: I’ve a minor interest in numismatics. When we got a scanner at the office a few years ago, I tried to scan some bills in order to view high-resolution images on the screen and manipulate magnification and other things, the better to appreciate the many small details in the notes (a magnifying glass typically has a 20-30% magnification effect).

    The scanner wouldn’t scan the notes, either Pesos or Dollars, displaying a message that the law forbids such activities. When we got color copiers, which also scan, I tried again and had the same results.

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  20. SenyorDave says:

    @An Interested Party: Last week, a couple in my synagogue took in a Guatemalan woman and her 6 year old son who amazingly qualified for asylum in the US. My wife met them when she brought over a box of my grandson’s clothing which he outgrew.. The woman had an abusive husband who was involved with a Guatemalan drug gang (apparently Central American gangs make US gangs look mild in comparison, they operate on the “kill everyone in sight principle”, and the police and army fear them). She said the woman is scared that she will be sent back any day now.
    If it weren’t for the harm that Trump policies cause I would say full steam ahead. It is hard to imagine that Trump is doing anything with regard to immigration policy that appeals to anyone other than his base. But that is par for the course with Trump. Besides, at this point IMO Miller is making the decisions. He sounds like he would fit in perfectly in 1930’s Germany.

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  21. An Interested Party says:

    Of course, such things are against the law, and they violate treaties, not to mention that illegally entering the country is a misdemeanor and not a felony. It’s like putting people in jail for speeding or jaywalking.

    But there’s the rub, eh? What this sleazebag and his henchmen want to do is illegal so of course the courts are going to swat down this racist shit…

    The woman had an abusive husband who was involved with a Guatemalan drug gang…

    There’s something that makes all of this even more insidious…so much of the violence in Central America is because of the stupid War on Drugs and our country’s appetite for illegal drugs…so we are creating many of the conditions that are driving these people here and then we have President Dipshit and his sidekick, Roy Cohn Jr., saying, “No, go back or we’ll break up your family!” I’m still waiting for anyone to present a logical, rational reason for supporting this evil regime…

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  22. Teve says:

    Trump Wants to Bring Back ‘Large-Scale’ Family Separation

    Kirstjen Nielsen thought splitting up migrant families at the border was illegal, so Trump forced her to resign

    rolling stone

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  23. Sleeping Dog says:

    Bolton, Mulvaney and Miller, letting Tiny be Tiny.

    While over at the WaPo, Max Boot suggests Rasputin, ur, Steve Miller to head DHS. The confirmation hearings would be fun.

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  24. Moosebreath says:

    @Slugger:

    “Why fire the Secret Service guy? Does Trump feel that his personal security is being handled improperly? Has there been an upsurge in counterfeiting?”

    I suspect Trump is not happy about the Mar-A-Lago intruder becoming public knowledge, and suspects a leak.

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  25. Jen says:

    He’s apparently been making fun of Alles’s appearance, calling him “Dumbo” because of his ears.

    I want everyone to take a moment to absorb this. Our utterly idiotic and juvenile president has been making fun of the appearance of the man whose organization is in charge of his safety and security.

    What a complete @sshole.

    Also, what are we not talking about right now? The whitewashing of the Mueller report, and the Congressional order for Trump’s taxes. I have no idea if this is yet again distraction over distraction or if it’s just the usual chaos we’ve come to expect.

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  26. Jax says:

    Apparently a Secret Service agent stuck that damn thumb drive into his computer (massive eyerolls), so somebody needs to be doing some “Internet Safety Training” in the (checks notes) top agency in charge of “Not letting foreign countries hack our shit”.

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  27. An Interested Party says:

    He’s apparently been making fun of Alles’s appearance, calling him “Dumbo” because of his ears.

    Oh that’s rich coming from someone who has a spray-on tan and wears that strange object on top of his head…

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  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I suspect Trump is not happy about the Mar-A-Lago intruder becoming public knowledge, and suspects a leak.

    The Secret Service blamed it on loose security by Mar-A-Lago. Which is to say, on Trump’s organization, with the implication they might have to tighten up on letting people just buy their way in. Did he really think Trump would put up with that?

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  29. Robert C says:

    @mattbernius:
    Agree.
    Mulvaney: shrink federal gov’t so it only funds military
    Bolton: War with Iran, maybe NK, maybe Venezuela
    Miller: admitting only white people to US
    Kushner: annexation of West Bank by Israel and forced movement of Palestinians to Jordan.

    Kiss. Keep it simple.

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  30. de stijl says:

    Stephen Miller has a very Hannibal Lecter vibe.

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  31. Robert C says:

    @Robert C:
    And FWIW..
    Mulvaney: Trumps base agrees
    Bolton: Trumps base disagrees
    Miller: Trumps base agrees
    Kushner: Trumps base indifferent

    It’s a winning hand politically, sadly.

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  32. de stijl says:

    I would’ve gone with Randolph Über Alles. The Dead Kennedys shout out.

    https://youtu.be/eIqESwzCGg4

    Not a fan of this. Positing Jerry Brown v1.0 as neo-Hitler was just rankly stupid. I do like Jello Biafra as a performer, though. He understood theatricality. Preferred Holiday in Cambodia as a song.

    https://youtu.be/Qr6NOsluHYg

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  33. de stijl says:

    Randolph Alles does have massive ears – this cannot be denied. But he looks like Dobby.

    Only a moral monster would make fun of Dobby.

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  34. de stijl says:

    Best DK song is Nazi Punks Fuck Off (this was actually a problem back in the day and those dudes were insidious, but thankfully, stupid.)

    https://youtu.be/iyc62g7YQM0

    They could infest a show if they ordered all hands on deck and swarm a gig, but not a scene. The best prophylactic was just to shut everything down, pack up, and leave.

    A person I was really quite close to joined a Nazi band. Learned the skill of walking away from toxicity – which is damn useful.

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  35. de stijl says:

    My new upper right-hand avatar is so Mooninite, it’s adorable! I look like Err!

    https://youtu.be/6T6tL0UdmY4

    ATHF for the win!

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  36. de stijl says:

    Punk would have died if Johnny Rotten was dull. Died on the vine.

    But he was wicked smart – he was the most interesting and intriguing person you’d never met. John Lydon changed history with sheer impudent charisma and will and wit. He was exhilarating and so frankly truthful.

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  37. Franklin says:

    @Jen:

    Our utterly idiotic and juvenile president has been making fun of the appearance of the man whose organization is in charge of his safety and security.

    It’s not the first or last time he has made fun of people for appearances or disabilities, but you’re right this seems extra stupid since the guy was protecting him.

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  38. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Jen: Stephen Miller is the US government’s answer to Martin Bormann.

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  39. PJ says:

    @de stijl:

    Stephen Miller has a very Hannibal Lecter vibe.

    And a Joseph Goebbels look.

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  40. de stijl says:

    @PJ:

    That’s freaky.

    Did Goebbels ever use fake hair in a can to paint a false widow’s peak on his head?

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  41. Teve says:

    FWIW DC examiner tweeting that it’s Kobach for DHS.

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  42. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    If it’s Kobach, they’re not even a little bit trying to hide it any more. That confirmation hearing will be tense.

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  43. An Interested Party says:

    @PJ: I just wonder how many times Goebbels got beat up in grade school…

    FWIW DC examiner tweeting that it’s Kobach for DHS.

    Jesus…and you thought Nielsen was bad…I can’t imagine how much depravity Kobach would dish out in that position…

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