Two members in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet – Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos – have joined a number of administration officials resigning in protest against the infamous attack on U.S. Capitol by his supporters.
In a statement addressed to her colleagues in the agency, Chao wrote that she was “deeply troubled” by the “entirely avoidable” events at the Capitol building. Chao, who is the first Asian American woman to become U.S. cabinet member, promised to help Joe Biden’s Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg to take over the department. Her resignation will be effective Monday.
Betsy DeVos submitted her resignation letter to Trump on Thursday, describing the incidents at the U.S. Congress as “unconscionable for our country.” “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me,” said Betsy, who was one of the longest serving members of the president’s administration.
Trump’s deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger; Stephanie Grisham, the chief of staff for first lady Melania Trump; White House social secretary Anna Cristina “Rickie” Niceta; special envoy Mick Mulvaney; Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services; and Anthony Ruggiero, senior director for counterproliferation and biodefense at the National Security Council are the other top officials who left the Trump administration citing Wednesday’s violent takeover of the Capitol building as the reason.
Meanwhile, top congressional Democrats have called for the president’s removal for inciting the riot at the Capitol.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schume urged Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment to the Constitution. It allows the Vice-President to declare the President unfit for office if the latter is unable to perform his duties due to a mental or physical illness.
Pelosi, who was re-elected Speaker of the House, vowed to initiate impeachment process if Pence failed to act.
An officer at the US Capitol Police died from injuries sustained in the attack by pro-Trump rioters, taking the death toll in the rampage to five.
The Department of Justice said it is committed to ensuring that those responsible for the attack face the consequences of their actions.
Under pressure, Trump publicly acknowledged that he won’t serve a second term, and condemned the “heinous attack” on the Capitol Hill. “Those who broke the law will pay,” he said in a recorded video message issued on Thursday.
Twitter unlocked Trump’s account on its platform after he removed three tweets that broke rules. But Facebook and Instagram will continue to block his account for at least the remainder of his term in office.
“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post on Thursday. “Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete,” he added.
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