Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Thursday announced her resignation from President Donald Trump’s administration, citing the storming of the U.S. Capitol building by protesters.
Chao released a letter she sent to the department in which she said the breach of the Capitol was “a traumatic and entirely avoidable event” and sought to connect it to how the president spoke to a rally shortly before it occurred.
“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,” she wrote.
Chao said she was honored to serve the department and hoped workers in the agency would “carry forward our vision” but added that she was resigning, effective Jan. 11.
Until then, she said she’d help the man President-elect Joe Biden has nominated to the position, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, on preparing to take control of the department.
Chao, 67, previously served as secretary of labor in President George W. Bush’s administration. She also worked for the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush in lesser roles.
Chao is married to the top Republican in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
McConnell has increasingly in recent weeks come out in opposition to Trump, leading the override of Trump’s veto of a national defense spending bill, refusing to pass a narrow $2,000 stimulus check proposal, and decrying Trump-backed objections to electoral votes during Wednesday’s joint session of Congress.
In a statement Thursday, McConnell said: “Yesterday represented a massive failure of institutions, protocols, and planning that are supposed to protect the first branch of our federal govt. A painstaking investigation and thorough review must now take place and significant changes must follow.”
Chao’s resignation is one of many that took place Thursday in the wake of the Capitol breach. First Lady Melania Trump aide Stephanie Grisham, a former White House press secretary, and U.S. Special Envoy for Northern Ireland Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff, were among them.
“I called Mike Pompeo last night and let him know and told him that I’ll be resigning. I can’t do it. I can’t stay,” Mulvaney said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of my friends resign,” he added.
Trump’s term ends of Jan. 20. Biden, who was certified as president-elect by Congress earlier Thursday, is set to be inaugurated that day.