Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday became the second member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet to quit over a mob attack on the US Capitol, saying he helped incite the violence.
“That behavior was unconscionable for our country. There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me,” DeVos said in a letter to Trump published in several US media outlets.
Her resignation on Thursday night came after the transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, stood down earlier in the day.
In a letter to Trump, DeVos said the attack on the Capitol was unconscionable and blamed Trump’s “rhetoric” for “the mess caused by violent protestors overrunning the US Capitol in an attempt to undermine the people’s business”.
“There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me,” she wrote, adding that her resignation would be effective on Friday.
DeVos was one of Trump’s longest, and most controversial, cabinet members. She was a staunch ally of charter schools, rescinded anti-discrimination protections for trans children, and threatened to take funding from schools that allowed trans athletes to participate on teams that matched their gender. In a farewell letter to Congress earlier this week, she urged lawmakers to reject policies supported by Joe Biden.
The American Federation of Teachers issued a pithy two word statement on her departure: “Good riddance.”
Chao, the transportation secretary, is married to the Senate majority leader and Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, who delayed acknowledging Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in November’s election.
There were a string of other resignations on Wednesday and Thursday. Trump’s deputy national security adviser, Matt Pottinger, former chief of staff and current special envoy to Northern Ireland, Mick Mulvaney, and Ryan Tully, the top White House adviser on Russia, also stepped down.
Two other senior White House officials – the national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, and the deputy chief of staff, Chris Liddell – are reportedly considering stepping down after a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building.
Pottinger and Mulvaney’s departures come amid intense speculation about other high-level departures after the US president incited and praised rioters while continuing to air baseless grievances over his loss of the presidency.
“I called [secretary of state] Mike Pompeo last night to let him know I was resigning from that. I can’t do it. I can’t stay,” Mulvaney told CNBC on Thursday morning.
“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.”
Chao on Thursday afternoon posted a message to Twitter.
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