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Saturday, September 23, 2023

DoT’s Chao Becomes First Cabinet Member to Quit After U.S. Capitol Riot

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.”

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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