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US transport chief, foreign policy advisers among resignations after Capitol violence

US transport chief, foreign policy advisers among resignations after Capitol violence

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Ivanka Trump, walks out of the Oval Office to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Jan 4, 2021. (Photo: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON: US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced her resignation on Thursday (Jan 7), the first cabinet minister to join a growing list of Republican President Donald Trump's staff leaving over the storming of the US Capitol by his supporters.

Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said the mob attack "has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside." She said her resignation will take effect on Monday.

Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, a leading figure in the development of Trump's China policy, resigned abruptly on Wednesday, said a senior administration official who declined to be named.

He was followed by Ryan Tully, senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council, a second senior official said, on condition of anonymity.

READ: 'It's insurrection,' says Biden, as Trump supporters storm US Capitol

Trump's pledge on Thursday that there would be an "orderly transition" to the presidency of Democrat Joe Biden on Jan 20 was partly intended to head off further resignations, but the second official told Reuters: "It's not going to stop it."

With two weeks left of Trump's presidency, many aides were already heading for the door, but the sudden departures suggested revulsion among some over his encouragement of mobs of supporters who stormed the Capitol in an ultimately futile bid to prevent formal certification of Biden's election victory.

The images filled television screens in the United States and around the world, forever marking Trump's presidency and legacy.

Chao, a labour secretary and deputy transportation secretary under previous Republican presidents, has led the department for four years.

READ: Donald Trump tells supporters to 'go home' after storming of US Capitol

In an interview with Reuters on Dec 31, Chao had said she planned to remain on the job through Jan. 20.

On Thursday, she was at pains to say that "we will help my announced successor, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, with taking on the responsibility of running this wonderful department."

READ: Woman shot in US Capitol unrest has died

Among those who were spurred to quit on Thursday was Mick Mulvaney, a former White House chief of staff who resigned his post as a special envoy to Northern Ireland.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see more of my friends resign over the course of the next 24 to 48 hours," he said on CNBC.

Commentary: The nightmarish end to Donald Trump’s presidency

Further departures are especially likely at the NSC, one of the officials said. It coordinates US foreign policy among federal agencies and maintains close contacts with foreign governments, so the loss of key staff could raise questions about national security as the new administration takes over.

Source: Reuters/jt/ec

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