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Transportation Secretary Chao resigns in protest

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report The Hill's Morning Report - Biden shifts on filibuster Watchdog says DeVos made nine figures in outside income during Trump years MORE will resign in protest after a violent mob overran the Capitol after being incited by President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks 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 McConnellRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists 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 taps California workplace safety leader to head up OSHA Romney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS US mulling cash payments to help curb migration MORE’s Transportation secretary-designate, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg hopes cruises will return by mid-summer Biden to host bipartisan talks on infrastructure next week The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - World mourns the death of Prince Philip 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.