Janet Napolitano, who as President Obama’s homeland security secretary has one of the broadest and most challenging portfolios of any Cabinet member, announced Friday that she is stepping down to become president of the University of California system.
Her resignation comes at a critical time for the Obama administration, as Congress debates a controversial bill to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws. Napolitano’s departure has been in the works for several months, and she plans to leave her post in early September, according to two administration officials.
She had given no public indication that she would leave, although she was seen as a possible successor to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. should he depart.
Administration officials said Napolitano, who had extensive law enforcement experience in Arizona, did not hide her desire to be attorney general and grew discouraged about her prospects as Holder stayed well into Obama’s second term.
One administration official familiar with Napolitano’s thinking cautioned that she simply seized what she considered to be a great career opportunity, calculating that after serving longer than any other homeland security secretary, it was time for a new challenge. (Full story)