The Department of Homeland Security’s general counsel, John Mitnick, has been fired, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN, the latest in a series of recent changes at the department.
“We thank John for his service and wish him the best in the future,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement to CNN. The source did not say why Mitnick was fired or provide additional details.
The New York Times first reported Mitnick’s firing. Joe Maher, principal deputy general counsel, will take over as DHS’ general counsel, the department spokesperson said.
Rumors of Mitnick’s potential departure swirled in April, when President Donald Trump was overseeing a dramatic shakeup at the department that included the ousting of former Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. This summer, acting public affairs assistant secretary Andrew Meehan announced his departure, along with at least two other officials from DHS, which has been at the center of implementing Trump’s core policy goal of a border wall and tighter immigration restrictions.
CNN reported in April that Trump was facing pressure to fire Mitnick from Stephen Miller, the White House senior adviser who has long channeled Trump’s hardline immigration views.
Mitnick’s tenure in the administration was at times rocky. As the top lawyer inside DHS, it fell to Mitnick to push back against the White House on a proposal to release undocumented immigrants into sanctuary cities, which DHS lawyers killed.
In February, according to documents obtained by CNN, Mitnick told the White House in writing that such a move could only be done if there was a “strong, mission-related rationale” pertaining to the responsibilities of DHS.
Mitnick’s ousting comes several weeks after The Washington Post reported that Trump, in his push to make good on his promise to supporters by Election Day, told officials he will pardon them should they break any laws in attempting to finish construction on the wall at the US-Mexico border.