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Secs. Betsy DeVos, Elaine Chao Bail Amid Talk of Trump Cabinet Coup

'Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in...'

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos became the second Cabinet secretary to resign a day after Democrats in Congress sought to use a pro-Trump protest at the U.S. Capitol as the pretense to remove the president during his final two weeks in office.

In a resignation letter Thursday, DeVos criticized President Donald Trump for inflaming tensions that led supporters to storm the Capitol during the joint session of Congress.

“There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me,” she wrote the president.

In a farewell letter to Congress earlier this week, DeVos urged lawmakers to reject policies supported by Democrat Joe Biden, and to protect Trump administration policies that Biden has promised to eliminate.

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Earlier in the day, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao tendered her resignation effective Monday.

In a statement Thursday, Chao, who is married to Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, said the violent attack on the Capitol “has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”

She said her department will continue to cooperate with Biden’s designated nominee to head the department, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

McConnell, the out-going majority leader, also shunned Trump several times in recent weeks as the two butted heads over the efforts to address widespread vote fraud in the election, and the individual payments in a coronavirus relief bill.

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However, he appeared to stop short of attacking Trump over the protest.

McConnell said there was a “massive failure’’ by police and other officials that allowed the breach.

He said a “painstaking investigation and thorough review must now take place and significant changes must follow.’’

He says the “ultimate blame” lay with the criminals who broke into the Capitol and the people who incited them. But he said that “does not and will not preclude our addressing the shocking failures in the Capitol’s security posture and protocols.”

Others who resigned in the wake of the protest: Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger; Ryan Tully, senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council; and first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham, a former White House press secretary.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff-turned-special envoy to Northern Ireland, told CNBC that he had called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “to let him know I was resigning. … I can’t do it. I can’t stay.”

Mulvaney said others who work for Trump had decided to remain in their posts in an effort to provide some sort of guardrails for the president during his final days in office.

“Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in,” Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney’s predecessor in the chief of staff job, retired U.S. Marine Corps general John Kelly, told CNN that “I think the Cabinet should meet and have a discussion” about Section 4 of the 25th Amendment — allowing the forceful removal of Trump by his own Cabinet.

However, Vice President Mike Pence rejected that possibility.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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