Obama appointed judge rules top Trump official unlawfully appointed to head USCIS

Per the Hill, Washington, D.C., District Judge Randolph Moss, an Obama appointee, decided the Trump administration violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) when Cuccinelli, the current deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was appointed to lead USCIS in June 2019.

Just days earlier, Chuck Schumer attacked Cuccinelli on the Senate floor.

Fox News reports a federal judge ruled Sunday that one of the Trump administration’s top immigration officials, Ken Cuccinelli, was unlawfully appointed to his post because of a decades-old law on federal vacancies.

U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss ruled that Cuccinelli’s appointment as the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) circumvented a law that said a senior government position could be filled only if the Senate first approved the individual.

It was not immediately clear what impact this would have on Cuccinelli’s tenure, if any.

Cuccinelli, also the deputy secretary of Homeland Security, was given his role after his predecessor at USCIS, Lee Cissna, resigned in June 2019. USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans should have rightfully assumed the post, Moss outlined in his ruling.

However, acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who later resigned, created a position for Cuccinelli, naming him the principal deputy USCIS director, and then reorganized the department to place his role ahead of Koumans’ position.

Since Cuccinelli was not legally eligible to serve as acting USCIS director, according to the judge, some of his decisions — including one that limited the access some asylum-seekers had to obtain legal counsel — could be voided.

Three weeks after assuming his post at USCIS, Cuccinelli implemented a new directive that cut the time asylum-seekers had to prepare and complete “credible fear interviews.”

Read more here.