Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf on Sunday denied knowing that the Trump administration’s naturalization ceremony would later air as part of the Republican National Convention amid concerns that the RNC event was one of several incidents that violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive government officials from participating in political activity while on duty.
When pressed during an interview on ABC News on whether he knew that the naturalization ceremony would be broadcasted in the RNC, Wolf first dodged the question as he insisted that the DHS conducts “hundreds, if not, thousands” of naturalization ceremonies annually.
“I participated in several of them not only with the President, but with the Vice President,” Wolf said. “So, it’s absolutely a legitimate role for the department to do.”
Wolf added that he conducted a naturalization ceremony the day after the one filmed at the White House aired during the RNC, and that “we’ll continue to do that” since it was “an official event at the White House.”
ABC News’ Jon Karl attempted to interject as Wolf mentioned that the naturalization ceremony was uploaded to a public YouTube channel and argued that “anyone, any individual, organization or political party can pull down that video and do with it as they wish.”
Karl then circled back to his initial question about whether Wolf knew that he was taking part in a ceremony that it was going to be used during the RNC.
Wolf responded by denying that he had knowledge of it being part of the RNC’s broadcast, before reiterating that the Trump administration will continue holding naturalization ceremonies.
“No,” Wolf said. “What I knew is again, participating in a naturalization ceremony, we had a number of USCIS employees there, as they do every naturalization ceremony, making sure that that ceremony goes off without a hitch. They were giving that oath of allegiance to those individuals there. And again, we’ll continue to do that, because that’s our mission at the department.”
Wolf’s remarks come on the heels of the Wall Street Journal’s report that two of the five immigrants who were part of the naturalization ceremony at the White House found out only minutes before the ceremony that President Trump would attend the event, and that they were unaware that it would be aired during the RNC.
On Wednesday morning, a White House official told TPM in an emailed statement that “there was no violation of law” because “the White House publicized the content of the event on a public website this afternoon and the campaign decided to use the publicly available content for campaign purposes.”
Watch Wolf’s remarks below:
NEW: “No,” acting DHS Sec. Chad Wolf tells @jonkarl when pressed about whether he knew that the naturalization ceremony that he led at the White House would be aired as part of the Republican National Convention. https://t.co/zlzRmVpIbE pic.twitter.com/ktyzY1fOlS
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 30, 2020