Government watchdog reaffirms Homeland Security leadership appointments were invalid

Earlier this month, the GAO, which serves as a government watchdog for Congress, found that acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of deputy secretary, were appointed as part of an invalid order of succession. By Geneva Sands, CNN

(CNN) -- The Government Accountability Office reaffirmed its decision Friday that the appointments of the top two officials at the Department of Homeland Security were invalid.

Earlier this month, the GAO, which serves as a government watchdog for Congress, found that acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of deputy secretary, were appointed as part of an invalid order of succession.

In response, the department asked that the watchdog rescind its decision, calling it "baseless and baffling."

On Friday, the GAO declined, saying it would only reverse a decision if it "contains a material error of fact or law."

"DHS has not demonstrated that our prior decision contains errors of either fact or law, nor has DHS presented information not previously considered that warrants reversal or modification of our decision. Therefore, we decline to reverse or modify the decision," wrote GAO General Counsel Thomas Armstrong in response Friday.

Democratic Reps. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Carolyn Maloney of New York requested the investigation last November and want both men to resign.

"We continue to call on Mr. Wolf step down from his position and for Mr. Cuccinelli to resign from Federal service entirely. We also continue to call on the President to appoint an apolitical career official to run the Department temporarily and follow the Constitution by swiftly nominating a permanent Secretary," the wrote in a statement Friday.

The back-and-forth continued Friday, with DHS again slamming the decision.

"The Government Accountability Office put out a deeply flawed and clearly partisan report and decided to double down instead of correcting their mistake," a DHS spokesperson said in a statement. "The GAO's unfortunate decision today does nothing whatsoever to change the law, the facts, or the truth; instead, it only further damages the office's little remaining credibility as a nonpartisan entity."

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