Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigns in wake of Capitol assault

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday night became the latest Trump administration official to resign in the wake of the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.  She said in her resignation letter to President Trump that there is “no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”

DeVos insisted in her letter that “history will show we were correct in our repeated urging of and support for schools reopening this year and getting all of America’s students back to learning.” But, she said, “impressionable children” were watching the riots at the Capitol and “we each have a moral obligation to exercise good judgement and model the behavior we hope they would emulate.”

Her resignation came hours after Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced her resignation, saying it is effective as of Monday. Chao and DeVos are both members of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet, and President-elect Joe Biden has already announced his choices to replace them. 

“Yesterday our nation experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable act as supporters of the president stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed,” Chao said in a letter to her colleagues posted on Twitter. “As I am sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way I cannot set aside.”

Both Chao and DeVos have been in the Trump administration since the beginning.

Her resignation comes as Mr. Trump has expressed his frustrations with McConnell, who moved against his call for $2,000 stimulus checks and declined to object to the Electoral College results. 

The following Trump administration officials have also resigned:

  • Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff to the first lady

  • Sarah Matthews, deputy press secretary

  • Rickie Niceta, White House social secretary

  • Matthew Pottinger, deputy national security advisor

  • Mick Mulvaney, special envoy to Northern Ireland

  • John Costello, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for intelligence and security.

  • Tyler Goodspeed, CEA Acting Chairman

Five senior FAA officials, all political appointees of the Trump administration, also resigned following the violence at the Capitol. Arjun Garg, chief counsel and current acting deputy FAA Administrator, Brianna Manzelli, assistant administrator for communications, Kirk Shaffer, assistant administrator for airports, Bailey Edwards, assistant administrator for policy, international affairs and environment and Andrew Giacini, acting administrator for legislative affairs, all resigned.

The resignations come with less than two weeks left in the Trump administration. 

Mulvaney, who was formerly the acting White House chief of staff, said early Thursday he called Mike Pompeo Wednesday night to let him know about his resignation. “I can’t do it. I can’t stay,” he told CNBC.  

Mulvaney, a former congressman from South Carolina, also said he expects more resignations in the next 24 to 48 hours.

“Those who choose to stay, and I have talked to a couple of them, are choosing to stay because they are concerned that the president might put someone in to replace them who could make things even worse,” he said. “So I’m not condemning those who choose not to resign, I understand that, but I can’t stay here. Not after yesterday. You can’t look at that yesterday and think ‘I want to be a part of that’ in any way, shape, or form.”

Mulvaney held numerous roles in the Trump administration. He was director of the Office of Management and Budget and acting White House chief of staff, a position he held for nearly 15 months. Mr. Trump selected Mulvaney as his special envoy to Northern Ireland in March 2020.

John Costello, an official in the Commerce Department, said in a statement later on Thursday he has “no choice” but to step down following “an unprecedented attack on the very core of our democracy – incited by a sitting President.”

“The president has long disregarded and diminished the rule of law and the constitution,” said Costello, the deputy assistant secretary of commerce for intelligence and security. “Yesterday, that culminated in violent sedition against the U.S. Congress for the purposes of overturning a legally recognized and valid election.” 

Kris Van Cleave and Kristin Brown contributed to this report.

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