Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoWhite House aides head for exits after chaos at Capitol Trump selects Hicks, Bondi, Grenell and other allies for positions Trump to name Giuliani’s son to role on Holocaust Memorial Council MORE will resign in protest after a violent mob overran the Capitol after being incited by President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump acknowledges end of presidency after Congress certifies Biden win Congress affirms Biden win after rioters terrorize Capitol Third House lawmaker tests positive for COVID-19 this week MORE, a source with knowledge of her decision said Thursday.
Chao would become the first Cabinet official, and the highest-ranking member of the administration, to resign in the wake of Trump’s incendiary rally and its violent aftermath on Wednesday.
“Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed,” Chao wrote in a letter to Transportation Department staff, obtained by The Hill. “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.”
Her exit is a sharp rebuke of a president who has alienated even some of his closest supporters with his increasingly unhinged rhetoric. Chao has served as Transportation secretary since Trump’s inauguration. She served as Labor secretary for eight years under President George W. Bush.
Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress affirms Biden win after rioters terrorize Capitol Congress rejects challenge to Arizona’s presidential vote White House aides head for exits after chaos at Capitol MORE (R-Ky.), who spent much of Wednesday locked in an undisclosed and secure location under armed guard as Trump-backing rioters marauded through the Capitol.
In her letter to employees, Chao said she would resign effective Monday. She said her team would continue assisting President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump acknowledges end of presidency after Congress certifies Biden win Congress affirms Biden win after rioters terrorize Capitol Here’s how newspaper front pages across the world looked after mobs stormed the Capitol MORE’s Transportation secretary-designate, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg is blazing trails for LGBTQ equality 2020: A year in photos 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics MORE, with the transition.
Chao’s exit will absolve her of uncomfortable questions over whether she would join any effort to remove President Trump from office two weeks before his term expires by invoking the 25th Amendment, which allows the majority of the Cabinet to replace a president with the vice president.
Her departure will anger those who wanted the Cabinet to take the historic step of replacing Trump with Vice President Pence. But Chao’s resignation is not effective until Monday, which could give Cabinet members time to organize their vote.