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Chao letter to Trump cites Wednesday's 'events at the US Capitol' as reason for resignation

Chao letter to Trump cites Wednesday's 'events at the US Capitol' as reason for resignation
© Greg Nash

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause Gingrich on Trump-McConnell feud: GOP 'better off' focusing on Democrats Trump rips McConnell in speech to Republicans MORE, in her official resignation letter to President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE, cited the Capitol riots as her reason for leaving the administration just under two weeks before President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE takes office.

“I had planned on serving through the end of your term in office. But after yesterday’s events at the U.S. Capitol, I will resign as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, effective Monday, January 11, 2021 to provide a short period of transition,” she wrote to Trump.

Chao sent a letter to agency staff earlier on Thursday announcing her resignation, making her the first Cabinet member to resign in the wake of Wednesday's pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol. Education Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosBiden taps ex-consumer bureau chief to oversee student loans Tomorrow's special election in Texas is the Democrats' best House hope in 2021 Headhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report MORE resigned later on Thursday.

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“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 Thursday's letter to Transportation Department staff. “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.”

In her two-page resignation letter to Trump, which included just one sentence about the Capitol riots, she thanked the president for the opportunity to serve as Transportation secretary and highlighted the department’s accomplishments over the last four years.

In a nearly three-minute farewell video to the Transportation Department staff, wishing them good luck as they "train another whole new team" during the transition, Chao made no mention of the deadly riots at the Capitol.

Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' McConnell alma mater criticizes him for 1619 comments McConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' MORE (R-Ky.), has served as Transportation secretary for the entirety of Trump's presidency. She previously served as Labor secretary for eight years under former President George W. Bush.