(CNN)Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Sunday defended the naturalization ceremony that took place at the White House and was later aired during the Republican National Convention, calling it a “legitimate role for the department to do.”
“It was an official event by the White House uploaded to a public YouTube channel. Anyone, any individual, organization, or political party can pull down that video and do with it as they wish,” Wolf told ABC’s Jonathan Karl on “This Week.”Wolf also said he was not aware that footage of the ceremony would be aired during the Republican convention — an act that flexed the powers of the incumbency during the highest-profile political event of the calendar.”No, what I knew is again participating in a naturalization ceremony — we had a number of USCIS employees there, as they do every naturalization ceremony making sure that that ceremony goes off without a hitch,” he said. “They were giving that oath of allegiance to those individuals there. Again, we’ll continue to do that because that’s our mission at the department.”During the convention, the White House was used as a backdrop for other programming, including the immigration naturalization ceremony. Video of President Donald Trump overseeing the naturalization ceremony for five new US citizens at the White House was shown at the convention and later posted to YouTube. Read MoreTrump emphasized the achievements of each of the citizens, and congratulated them on coming to the country legally.”You followed the rules, you obeyed the laws, you learned your history, embraced our values and proved yourselves to be men and women of the highest integrity,” the President told the participants.Wolf administered the oath to the five people. By labeling the videos routine examples of “official events,” the White House seemed to excuse the use of government resources that went into them — including the participation of Wolf. Administration officials have said previously that Trump’s use of the White House doesn’t violate any laws and that staffers are permitted to participate on their own time as long as his appearances occur in the residence portion and not the West Wing.