Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who has served in her role since the beginning of the Trump administration, today became the first Cabinet member to quit citing the Wednesday riot at the U.S. Capitol.
President Trump’s deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger resigned Wednesday, along with the first lady’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham, a press aide and the White House social secretary. Former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney quit as special envoy to Northern Ireland.
“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,” Mulvaney told CNBC this morning, saying of his own decision, “I can’t do it. I can’t stay.”
In a statement to the DoT, Chao said the country had “experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed.”
“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,”
Chao said, adding that she is “tremendously proud” of the DoT’s accompliments.
Her last day will be Monday, and Chao vowed to help President-elect Biden’s nominee, Pete Buttigieg, “with taking on the responsibility of running this wonderful department.”
Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who called the storming of the Capitol — during which rioters were in the Senate chamber — a “failed insurrection” and “a massive failure of institutions, protocols, and planning that are supposed to protect the first branch of our federal government.”
“The ultimate blame for yesterday lies with the unhinged criminals who broke down doors, trampled our nation’s flag, fought with law enforcement, and tried to disrupt our democracy, and with those who incited them,” McConnell said today. “But this fact does not and will not preclude our addressing the shocking failures in the Capitol’s security posture and protocols.”