WASHINGTON         -      President Donald Trump on Friday said Chad Wolf, a longtime Homeland Security official, would be the new acting head of the department, the fifth person in the job for this administration. But Trump’s casual announcement, made in response to a reporter’s question outside the White House, temporarily created more uncertainty about who was in charge of the sprawling department. There have been weeks of speculation over who would be named the next leader, and Kevin McAleenan, the current acting secretary, has agreed to stay on temporarily. The department initially wouldn’t confirm Wolf was next in line, saying only that McAleenan was acting secretary. When a reporter asked Trump directly whether Wolf was to be the next DHS secretary, the president responded, “He’s acting, and we’ll see what happens.” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley later clarified. “As the president has said, Kevin McAleenan has done a tremendous job. He’ll be leaving after Veterans’ Day and after he departs, Chad Wolf will serve as acting secretary in the interim,” Gidley told reporters.

The elevation of Wolf, who has served in Democratic and Republican administrations, is likely to disappoint immigration hardliners and perhaps Trump himself.

The White House had been trying to work around rules that prevented Trump from promoting several political allies to at least temporarily run the agency that carries out U.S. immigration policies. Wolf was chief of staff to former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

He has been involved with the 240,000-person department off and on since its creation following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Wolf worked with Nielsen through many of the administration’s most challenging immigration issues but left as her chief of staff to take on another role within Homeland Security before she resigned in April.