A day after the Homeland Security chief resigned, another top official who reported to Kirstjen Nielsen is out.
United States Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles was pushed out by the president on Monday. A law enforcement source familiar with the discussions told VICE News that Alles had been informed a couple weeks earlier that his time was up.
Alles was told that there would be transitions across the department and his position as director would be affected, according to the source, who spoke anonymously as they were not authorized to speak on the record.
In a press release, Alles pushed back on the notion that he was ousted.
“No doubt you have seen media reports regarding my ‘firing.’ I assure you that is not the case,” Alles wrote, adding the president had directed “an orderly transition in leadership” and that he intends to honor a request to stay in his role until May.
The New York Times reported Monday that two more members of Nielsen’s team are also expected to leave soon: the head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Lee Francis Cissna, and John Mitnick, the DHS’ general counsel. The department is reeling from Trump’s frustration with a surge in immigrant families seeking asylum in the U.S.; last week, he repeatedly threatened to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border entirely.
The timing of Alles’ departure is significant because of the recent breach of Mar-a-Lago, the winter retreat where the president spends many weekends, by a Chinese woman armed with computer malware. The Secret Service allowed her in because they thought she was a relative of a club member. But the law enforcement official said the March 30 Mar-a-Lago breach did not affect Alles tenure, despite increasing concern over the property’s security.
“He [Alles] knew this was happening,” the source said.
Several Secret Service agents who spoke to VICE News learned of Alles’ ouster through news coverage and phone calls from reporters.
The White House issued a statement after the news broke. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, “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. 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.”
Cover: In this Feb. 1, 2018 photo, Director of the United States Secret Service, Randolph Alles, speaks at the Atlanta Press Club in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman).