(Reuters) – Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, an African-American who became a staunch critic of the Black Lives Matter movement and a supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has withdrawn his acceptance for a job as assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. newspapers reported on Saturday.
Clarke notified Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on Friday of his decision, Craig Peterson, an adviser to Clarke, said in a statement, according to the Washington Post and other newspapers.
“Sheriff Clarke is 100 percent committed to the success of President Trump and believes his skills could be better utilized to promote the president’s agenda in a more aggressive role,” the newspapers quoted Peterson as saying.
Neither the agency nor Clarke’s office immediately responded to requests for comment.
Clarke’s decision comes a month after he told radio station WISN in Milwaukee that he would leave his post as sheriff June to join the Department of Homeland Security.
At the time, a spokeswoman for the agency said no announcement on Clarke had been made.
President Trump and Clarke met in Wisconsin on Tuesday and discussed other roles in which Clarke could help advance Trump’s agenda, the Washington Post reported, citing Peterson.
The Department of Homeland Security – created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon – includes agencies that handle customs, border protection and immigration, the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and the Secret Service.
Clarke has come under fire for comments he has made about the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew out of protests over a number of police killings of unarmed black men in various parts of the United States.
Clarke has labeled members of the movement “subhuman creeps” and called for its eradication.
Clarke spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July.
Critics have faulted Clarke for his management of a Milwaukee County jail where a mentally ill man died in 2016 of dehydration. An inquest jury recommended that seven employees of the jail be criminally charged.
Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California called Clarke’s appointment “a disgrace.”
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, editing by Louise Heavens)
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