With less than two weeks remaining in President Donald Trump’s term, several officials and staff members in his administration — including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — submitted their resignations after a mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol last Wednesday.
After the president held a rally near the White House Wednesday, he told thousands of his supporters that he would “never concede” and encouraged them to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol to “take back our country.” The next day, after Congress had certified the election results, Trump said there would be an orderly transition on January 20 despite casting doubt on the validity of the election’s outcome.
Congress was forced to pause counting the electoral votes that later confirmed Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. Lawmakers fled to a secure location while rioters desecrated the halls. At least five died in the mayhem, including two women. Many lawmakers condemned the president and have called for his removal.
U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called on Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows the president to be removed from office. In order for Pence to become the acting president, he and a majority of the executive Cabinet or a review body appointed by Congress must declare in writing that the president is unfit for office. If Trump resists the removal, at least two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and Senate would have to vote in favor. The 25th Amendment has never been used without the consent of the president.
“If the vice president or Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment,” said Pelosi, currently the most powerful woman in Congress. On Monday, House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against Trump for the “incitement of insurrection.”
Here is a running list of the women who have resigned from the Trump administration.
Elaine Chao, secretary of Transportation
Chao announced her resignation last Thursday effective January 11, the following Monday. She was the first Cabinet-level official to step down and promised to help her successor, former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, transition into the role.
“Yesterday our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed,” said Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “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.”
Betsy DeVos, secretary of Education
DeVos also submitted her letter of resignation to the president one day after the riot. She was the second Cabinet-level official to step down. She called the mob’s behavior “unconscionable” and said the president’s rhetoric made an unmistakable impact on the situation.
“We should be highlighting and celebrating your Administration’s many accomplishments on behalf of the American people,” DeVos wrote. “Instead, we are left to clean up the mess caused by violent protestors overrunning the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to undermine the people’s business.”
Stephanie Grisham, first lady’s chief of staff
Grisham, First Lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff and former White House press secretary, submitted her resignation, effective immediately, on the same day the rioters stormed the Capitol. She worked on the president’s campaign in 2016 and is one of the administration’s longest-serving staff members.
Rickie Niceta, White House social secretary
Anna Cristina “Rickie” Niceta also resigned on Wednesday. Niceta, who oversaw all the events at the White House, assumed the post in early 2017 and was also one of the longest-serving members of the Trump administration.
Sarah Matthews, deputy White House press secretary
Matthews, a deputy White House press secretary, announced her plans to resign on Wednesday. She said she was “deeply disturbed” by what she saw and urged a “peaceful transfer of power.”
Elinore F. McCance-Katz, assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services
Dr. McCance-Katz, the assistant secretary for mental health and substance abuse, announced her resignation on Thursday. In a statement, she said she had planned to stay until Biden’s inauguration but changed her mind when she saw the “violent takeover of the Capitol building.”
“Because I believe that the mental health of our people has suffered so greatly under the stresses of COVID-19, the social justice issues that have been so painful for so many, and now with the rending of our nation over questions raised about the presidential election, I cannot support language that results in incitement of violence and risks our very existence,” Dr. McCance-Katz said in the statement.