Everything about Pete Gaynor as FEMA administrator replaces Chad Wolf as acting secretary of Homeland Security

Chad Wolf's email to colleagues informing them about his decision to step down names FEMA Administrator Peter T. Gaynor as his successor

                            Everything about Pete Gaynor as FEMA administrator replaces Chad Wolf as acting secretary of Homeland Security
Peter Gaynor testifies before a House Committee on Homeland Security meeting on Capitol Hill on July 22, 2020, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf has resigned from the Trump administration effective at 11:59 p.m. on January 11. The internal message he sent to staff at the department starts with the words "Dear colleagues". In the email, he says, "I am saddened to take this step, as it was my intention to serve the Department until the end of this Administration. Unfortunately, this action is warranted by recent events, including the ongoing and meritless court rulings regarding the validity of my authority as Acting Secretary. These events and concerns increasingly serve to divert attention and resources away from the important work of the Department in this critical time of a transition of power".

Jack Rodgers, a reporter with Courthouse News, tweeted the entire text of the email in a tweet captioned: "DHS staff confirming Sec. Chad Wolf will step down... what was sent to staff this evening."


The email states that Peter T. Gaynor, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will replace Wolf as the acting secretary of the Homeland Security Department. 

Who is Pete Gaynor? 

Pete Gaynor as FEMA Administratorgives hurricane season updates at the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center on June 8, 2020, in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)

A former Marine, Peter "Pete" Thomas Gaynor has more than 11 years of experience in emergency management. Prior to coming to FEMA, Gaynor served as the Director of Rhode Island’s Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) in 2015. During that time, RIEMA responded to numerous small and large disasters, including one presidentially declared disaster and at least seven pre-existing active federal disasters. Gaynor has overseen response and recovery efforts to blizzards, floods, tropical storms and public health emergencies. He has also coordinated evacuations, mass care, special events, and school safety.

Gaynor being appointed as the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on January 16, 2020, was lauded as a victory for professional qualification and experience over political connection. Chosen by President Donald Trump, Gaynor also had the strong endorsement from U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat and he also had the vote of confidence from FEMA employees.

From 9/11 to coronavirus -- Peter Gaynor's track record

Gaynor has generally kept a low public profile despite coordinating the pandemic response but those who have worked with him have good things to say about him. When terrorists attacked in September 2001, they destroyed the U.S. Navy’s operations center in the Pentagon. Gaynor and his team at a Marine Corps crisis center found personnel and equipment to reconnect the ops center, which let the Navy seamlessly direct its response to the terrorist attack.

More recently, Gaynor's model plans for 'continuity of operations' would be used during the 2020 pandemic -- he also anticipated the coronavirus in a 'threat assessment' document in 2019 which talked about a scenario involving “a new (novel) strain of influenza” that was capable of causing hundreds of fatalities within two weeks of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting the first confirmed case.

What lies ahead as he takes over from Chad Wolf?

Wolf’s resignation will be effective at the end of the day on Monday, January 11. With just nine days to go for Inauguration Day, Gaynor will be tasked with security arrangements for the event. The Secret Service will begin security operations on January 13 for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration — days earlier than originally planned in the wake of last week’s Capitol riot.

Starting this week and running through at least Inauguration Day, armed protests are reportedly being planned at all 50 state capitols and at the U.S. Capitol, according to an internal FBI bulletin that was obtained by ABC News. On Sunday, January 10, Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser had asked the Department of Homeland Security to cancel and deny demonstration permits and adjust its security plans for Inauguration Day following violent riots on Capitol Hill the day Congress certified Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.