A day after a mob of Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol as Congress met to confirm Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, more of the president’s aides and officials are now fleeing the White House.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos became the latest to tender her resignation late Thursday, citing the Capitol riot as an “inflection point,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
In a letter addressed to President Donald Trump, she wrote, “There’s no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced earlier in the day that she is resigning from her post, making her the first Cabinet secretary to leave the White House after Wednesday’s events, The Washington Post first reported.
“Yesterday, our country 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 wrote in a statement.
Stressing that she is “tremendously proud” of the accomplishments of the administration and her department, Chao announced her resignation will be effective Monday—and assured she will help her successor, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, transition into his new role.
Tyler Goodspeed, acting chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, also submitted his resignation on Thursday, several news outlets reported. The Daily Beast has also confirmed Ryan Tully, the senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council, resigned from his spot on Thursday as a result of the chaos in Washington, D.C.
“The events of yesterday made my position no longer tenable,” Goodspeed told The New York Times.
Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband on Thursday also announced he is leaving the Department of Justice, effective on Friday, though it is not clear if the Trump-appointee’s departure is related to the attack on the Capitol. Mark Vandroff, deputy assistant to the president and senior director for defense policy at the National Security Council, also put in his resignation on Thursday but didn’t give a reason for his departure, according to Defense News.
Hours after the pro-Trump mob broke into the usually highly secure Capitol building and invaded the Senate chambers, five Trump officials and aides immediately resigned. Stephanie Grisham, the chief of staff to the first lady and the former White House communications director, submitted her resignation, effective immediately, on Wednesday afternoon, as did Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews.
“As someone who worked in the halls of Congress I was deeply disturbed by what I saw today,” Matthews said in a statement. “Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.”
Former Trump Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney also announced that he had resigned from his diplomatic post as special envoy to Northern Ireland on Thursday morning, telling CNBC: “I can’t stay.” White House social secretary Anna Cristina “Rickie” Niceta also resigned Wednesday, according to CNN. And Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger handed in his letter of resignation on Wednesday afternoon, an administration official confirmed to The Daily Beast.
The mass exodus has Trump loyalists in the administration begging aides and officials to stay.
Two sources familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast on Wednesday night that several Trump aides in the White House and Pentagon frantically discussed how many officials they could get to release public statements about their decision to stay in the administration until Jan. 20. The sources said some names being put forward included senior White House aide Johnny McEntee, the former Trump body man and controversial director of the White House personnel office; Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought; and multiple Pentagon officials. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also made calls to the White House on Wednesday to try to maintain cohesiveness during the mass riot engulfing the capital. Chao is married to McConnell.
Joe Grogan, who served as the top White House domestic policy adviser to President Trump until May of last year, told The Daily Beast on Thursday afternoon that “yesterday was the worst day for the Republican Party since Lincoln’s assassination.”
Trump’s former senior aide said, “We lost two seats in Georgia and the Senate majority. And then the riot ended the day and an American citizen was shot and killed. It was a disgrace and a tragedy.” Grogan continued that Trump “had plenty of opportunities to off-ramp before this—and should have conceded before it came to this.”
“And what he did to Mike Pence was awful,” he added. “Pence is a hero. If he was a psycho like some of the aides around [the president] we could have had a catastrophe yesterday.”
Normally a lackluster procedural process and the final step to certifying the next president, the quadrennial event of confirming the Electoral College vote was upended with baseless claims of voter fraud that Trump has been touting relentlessly since he lost two months ago.
Just an hour after the vote began at 1 p.m, debates were halted as an angry pro-Trump mob swarmed the Capitol, eventually entering the supposed beacon of democracy.
Early Thursday, after a day in which one woman was shot to death, three others died, and dozens were injured, majorities in the House and Senate voted to certify the Electoral College votes and officially name Biden the victor.
The chaotic protest that paralyzed the Capitol came after Trump’s unhinged “Stop the Steal” speech on the National Mall, where he told thousands of supporters to “fight” for his presidency and vowed to demolish any Republican who opposed him.
As previously reported by The Daily Beast, several other senior officials, including Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Liddell, have revealed they were considering quitting their posts after news broke of the shooting death inside the Capitol.
Police on Thursday identified the woman as 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, a San Diego resident who is said to have served 14 years in the military. Her husband, Aaron Babbitt, described her to KUSI as an avid Trump supporter. The two are said to own a business together; he did not travel with her to D.C. Attempts to reach her family were not immediately successful.
At least six people in total were hospitalized in connection with the violence, including one law enforcement officer. Three others died due to medical emergencies during the riot, police said. More than 60 people have been arrested in association with the hostilities.
Trump addressed many of those who went on to riot at the Capitol just before they breached the building, telling them to “stop the steal” and demanding that Vice President Mike Pence challenge the election result. As the hordes rampaged through the House and Senate, Trump released a short and sympathetic video on Twitter that told his supporters to leave, concluding with: “We love you, you’re very special.”
Minutes after Pence formally certified Biden’s win in the early hours of Thursday, Trump, for the first time, appeared to accept that he would be leaving the White House in less than two weeks. In a brief statement that would have dismayed his supporters who stormed the Capitol, the president’s spokesperson tweeted: “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless, there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.”