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Transportation Secretary Chao resigns in protest

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoTop Democrat: FCC actions are a 'potential setback' to autonomous vehicles The 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 MORE will resign in protest after a violent mob overran the Capitol after being incited by President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization 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.”

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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 McConnellSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Trump signals he's ready to get back in the game Manchin, Murkowski call for bipartisan Voting Rights Act reauthorization 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 BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE’s Transportation secretary-designate, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegInfrastructure deal imperiled by differences on financing Biden says he and GOP both 'sincere about' seeking infrastructure compromise The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Colonial pays hackers as service is restored 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.