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Meet the Official Accused of Helping Trump Politicize Homeland Security

  • August 04, 2020

Judd Gregg, a former Republican senator and a sponsor of the act, backed the department’s actions against “a disruption of the orderly society,” even as he acknowledged that Congress paid little attention to the decision in the Homeland Security Act to transfer authority to protect federal property from the low-key General Services Administration to the more political homeland security secretary.

“I don’t think it was focused on at all,” he said, adding, “we were looking at the much bigger issue of how terrorists would attack us next.”

The Department of Homeland Security has struggled with its identity since its creation. James M. Loy, the first head of the Transportation Security Administration, recalled that “it was a patchwork quilt kind of thing.”

“Here we are 18 years later,” he added, “the department is still maturing in how it carries out its missions.”

Mr. Wolf, a Plano, Texas, native, went to college on a tennis scholarship before heading to Washington to work on Capitol Hill, then at the T.S.A. He rose at the agency to assistant administrator until 2005, when Thomas Blank, one of his mentors at the aviation security agency, recruited him to Wexler Walker, a now defunct lobbyist firm.

Mr. Wolf spent the Obama administration lobbying, including for a new carry-on luggage screening device that would cost the T.S.A. hundreds of millions of dollars. He returned to the agency as chief of staff in 2017 as it tested the product — it is now used at most airports.

After Kirstjen Nielsen became homeland security secretary in December 2017, she tapped Mr. Wolf to be her chief of staff.

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