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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 ChaoSchumer becomes new Senate majority leader FDA chief says he was 'disgusted' by Capitol riots, considered resigning McMaster: Trump running again would be 'terribly divisive' MORE, in her official resignation letter to President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE, cited the Capitol riots as her reason for leaving the administration just under two weeks before President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenRev. Barber says best way to undercut extremism is with honesty Biden requires international travelers to quarantine upon arrival to US Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 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 DeVosPardon talk intensifies as Trump approaches final 24 hours in office Azar in exit letter to Trump says Capitol riot could 'tarnish' legacy READ: Departure letter from HHS Secretary Azar to Trump 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 McConnellTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief 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.