Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced Thursday that she was resigning her Cabinet post, citing Wednesday’s chaotic violence at the U.S. Capitol as her reason.
“Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed,” Chao said in a statement issued on Twitter and addressed to colleagues at the Department of Transportation.
“As I’m sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside,” Chao added.
It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the U.S. Department of Transportation. pic.twitter.com/rFxPsBoh6t
— Sec. Elaine Chao (@SecElaineChao) January 7, 2021
The incursion came as national emotions ran high over the vote to certify the Electoral College vote. McConnell had strongly objected to Republican members who sought to file objections to the certification in support of President Donald Trump’s claims of fraud in the election.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the U.S. Department of Transportation,” tweeted Chao, who served as labor secretary in the administration of former President George W. Bush.
“I am tremendously proud of the many accomplishments we were able to achieve together for our country and I will never forget the commitment you have for this Department and the United States of America,” her statement said.
She said her resignation will be effective Monday, cutting short by nine days what would have been her time in office before the end of the Trump administration.
In her tweet, Chao urged employees to assist former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has been nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to serve as transportation secretary.
Some criticized Chao’s departure, citing proposed efforts to use the Cabinet as a vehicle to remove Trump from office through the 25th Amendment.
I realize now that the appropriate framing of the Elaine Chao resignation is that she *fled the Cabinet* rather than doing her duty under the Constitution and convening her peers to invoke the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution
It was an act of *extreme* cowardice
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) January 7, 2021
Elaine Chao’s resignation from the Cabinet likely means there isn’t enough support among Trump’s cabinet officials to remove him under the 25th Amendment. Otherwise, she would have stayed to complete the majority.
— Charlotte Clymer ?️? (@cmclymer) January 7, 2021
Tyler Goodspeed, acting chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, resigned Thursday.
“I can confirm Tyler’s resignation effective today,” a CEA spokeswoman said.
“The events at the U.S. Capitol yesterday led Tyler to conclude his position was untenable.”
Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general overseeing the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, said he was leaving his job as of Friday. He did not cite the incursion in a statement announcing his departure.
National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said Matt Pottinger, the deputy national security advisor, is also quitting.
Former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who later became the special envoy to Northern Ireland, has also quit.
“I called Mike Pompeo last night to let him know I was resigning from that. I can’t do it. I can’t stay,” Mulvaney said.
“Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in,” Mulvaney said.
First lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, left her post Wednesday, in part because of the incursion.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Matthews has also quit.
.@WhiteHouse Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews resigns from the Trump Administration in response to today’s events. I have always known her to be a good person who has the best interests of the nation at heart. pic.twitter.com/4ZMfmM2Zl3
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) January 7, 2021
“As someone who worked in the halls of Congress I was deeply disturbed by what I saw today. I’ll be stepping down from my role, effective immediately,” Matthews said in a statement.
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