Monday, January 18

Allies abandon Trump after uprising on Capitol Hill


(CNN) — Two members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, announced their resignation due to the unrest on Wednesday in the US Capitol.

The secretaries are among several administration officials who announced they were leaving in the wake of the mob of Trump supporters who violated the Capitol.

In a statement addressed to the department she headed, Chao wrote that she will resign as of Monday and that she was “deeply concerned” about the “totally avoidable” events at the Capitol building.

“I am tremendously proud of the many achievements we have made together for our country and I will never forget the commitment you have to this Department and to the United States,” her statement continued.

He added that he will help designated Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg take over the department.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the United States Department of Transportation,” he tweeted Thursday.

DeVos submitted a letter of resignation to Trump on Thursday, calling Wednesday’s events “unconscionable for our country.”

“There is no question of the impact his rhetoric had on the situation and that is the turning point for me,” he wrote. “Impressive kids are watching all this and learning from us. I believe that each of us has a moral obligation to exercise good judgment and to model the behavior that we hope will be emulated. They must know from us that America is bigger than it was yesterday. “

Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, also resigned on Thursday, writing in her resignation letter that she had planned to stay until the next administration, but her “plans abruptly changed” Wednesday for the night when he saw “the violent takeover of the Capitol building.”

“I think this behavior was totally unacceptable and, in my heart, I simply cannot continue,” he wrote.

“Because I believe that the mental health of our people has suffered so much under the stress of covid-19, the problems of social justice that have been so painful for many, and now with the tear of our nation by the doubts raised about the presidential elections , I cannot support a language that results in incitement to violence and puts our very existence at risk, “he added.

Additionally, Anthony Ruggiero, senior director of counterproliferation and biodefense at the National Security Council, resigned Thursday in protest of the president’s incitement to protests by supporters on Capitol Hill, according to a person familiar with the matter. Ruggiero leads the council’s North Korean policy and is a key expert on East Asia.

Thursday’s outgoing cohort followed a similar stretch of resignations from the administration the day before. Trump’s deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger resigned Wednesday afternoon.

Stephanie Grisham, former White House communications director and press secretary and current chief of staff to First Lady Melania Trump, and White House Social Secretary Anna Cristina “Rickie” Niceta resigned immediately Wednesday, officials said. White House to CNN. The two were among the Trump administration’s longest-serving officials.

The assault on the Capitol has also led to exits outside the administration. The Capitol Police Chief will resign as of January 16. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving would resign, while Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger submitted his own resignation Thursday for the night, according to a statement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Chao decided to resign after taking “time to take in” the uprising on Capitol Hill and the president’s response to it, a senior administration official said. The official said Chao’s decision to resign on Monday, and not immediately, was made to give his staff time for an orderly exit and transition.

Chao discussed the matter with her staff and her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, before deciding around 11 a.m. that she would resign.

“Today there was a lot of soul searching and discussion,” said a senior official. “Obviously it was the right thing to do.”

Before publishing his statement, Chao called White House Secretary General Mark Meadows to inform him of his decision, the senior official said. So far, he has not submitted a resignation letter to the president.

Chao encouraged senior officials in the Department of Transportation to stay until January 20 to ensure a smooth transition. Several of his senior officials were also considering resigning, but Chao “dissuaded them,” this official said.

The department’s general counsel, Steven Bradbury, is next in line because there is currently no undersecretary. He would become acting Secretary of Transportation unless the President appoints someone else to the position.

Chao, a veteran of Republican administrations, took office with a focus on reviving the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

But a review package to rebuild roads, bridges and highways never came, stalled by other legislative priorities, including tax cuts and health care. The administration unveiled a $ 1.5 trillion infrastructure plan early in the Trump administration, but the framework has faced roadblocks in Congress.

A succession of “Infrastructure Weeks” sponsored by the White House did little to advance the cause. The term has become a joke for the administration’s ability to weave its own message with unforced errors or a president prone to inflammatory tweets or comments.

Chao had thus far been an obedient soldier to the president, appearing at White House events and traveling the country to see administration-sponsored projects.

Unlike much of the administration, Chao came into office with years of government experience. She served in both Bush administrations, serving as the secretary of labor for the eight-year term of President George W. Bush.

Trump has looked skeptical at some Bush veterans, although he is not known to have singled out Chao specifically.

Instead, it is her husband who has at times proven to be the uncomfortable component of her relationship with Trump. The president has openly discussed with the Republican leader in the Senate about legislative priorities.

Chao had previously handled disputes skillfully. Standing next to Trump in August 2017, amid a dispute between the president and McConnell over health care, he was asked what he thought of the breakup.

“I support my man,” said Chao, “both.”

CNN’s Vivian Salam contributed to this report.

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