After weeks of silence and uncertainty, the agency responsible for ensuring the safety of our nuclear arsenal finally has an answer to the question of who exactly is in charge under President Trump. Last night, just hours before Trump was to be sworn in, his transition team finally asked Under Secretary for Nuclear Security Frank Klotz to stay on as chief of the National Nuclear Security Administration until his eventual replacement could be named and confirmed by the Senate.
As is customary for political appointees in outgoing administrations, Klotz had submitted his resignation effective today at noon. But it’s also been customary for new presidents to invite leaders in key positions—like, say, the ones ensuring the safety of our nukes—to stick around until the new president is able to install his own people. The Trump transition, as Gizmodo previously reported, had offered Klotz nothing but silence on that question for weeks, leading him to prepare for departure and spreading anxiety in the nuclear community that a key agency would be left leaderless due to Trump’s inattention.
The issue came to a head on Tuesday, when Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) sent Trump a letter warning him that “our country will lack high-ranking officials in charge of critical responsibilities such as overseeing our nation’s nuclear stockpile.”