U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned on Thursday, joining a growing list of aides leaving President Donald Trump’s administration in protest at the storming of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters, Reuters informed.
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 on Friday.
With less than two weeks left of Trump’s presidency, many aides were already heading for the door, making some of their resignations symbolic gestures.
But the sudden exodus suggested revulsion among some over Trump’s encouragement of supporters who brought violent chaos to the Capitol on Wednesday in an ultimately futile bid to prevent formal certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.
The growing departures of key U.S. national security staffers could also deprive Trump of critical advice in the event of an international crisis in his final days in office.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest resignations.
Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, a leading aide on Trump’s China policy, quit abruptly on Wednesday, said a senior administration official.
He was followed on Thursday by at least five senior directors at the White House National Security Council responsible for advising Trump on Russia, the Middle East, Africa, defense policy and weapons of mass destruction, according to a senior administration official and a person familiar with the matter.
Tyler Goodspeed, acting chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, also stepped down, a source familiar with the situation said.
Trump’s pledge on Thursday of an “orderly transition” on Jan. 20 was partly intended to head off further resignations, but one senior official told Reuters: “It’s not going to stop it.”