US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned on Thursday, joining a list of officials quitting President Donald Trump’s administration in protest at the storming of the Capitol by his supporters.
Chao, the wife of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, said in an email to staff that the mob attack “has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.” She said her resignation will take effect on Monday.
In a letter to Trump, DeVos said the attack on the Capitol was unconscionable. “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation and it is the inflection point for me,” she wrote, adding her resignation would be effective Friday.
With less than two weeks left of Trump’s presidency, many aides were already heading for the door, but the sudden exodus suggested revulsion among some over his encouragement of supporters who brought chaos to the Capitol on Wednesday in an ultimately futile bid to prevent formal certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.
Deputy national security advisor Matt Pottinger, a leading aide on Trump’s China policy, quit abruptly on Wednesday, said a senior administration official. He was followed by Ryan Tully, senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council, said a second senior official.
Trump, who as recently as Thursday morning had continued to claim falsely that the election had been stolen from him, said his focus would now turn to ensuring a smooth transition to a Biden administration in a video released in the evening.