White House Staffers Are Jumping the Trump Administration's Sinking Ship After Rioters' Capitol Assault

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They stood by him through thick and thin, from Charlottesville to his impeachment proceedings, but President Donald Trump's longtime loyalists are now jumping ship after he encouraged followers to descend on Congress, where they stormed and desecrated the U.S. Capitol.

With less than two weeks left before Trump leaves office, here are some of the most trusted confidantes who have called it quits after five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the insurrection.

Betsy DeVos

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
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One of the longest-serving cabinet members, DeVos led the Department of Education despite having no education experience. In a letter to Trump on Thursday, she wrote, "there is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me." On Twitter, DeVos wrote that “the peaceful transfer of power is what separates American representative democracy from banana republics.”

DeVos is the sister of Blackwater security company founder Erik Prince. Just before Christmas, Trump pardoned four former U.S. service members were convicted on charges related to the 2007 killings of 17 Iraqi civilians, including two children, while working as contractors for Blackwater. That action prompted an outpouring of criticism since one of the men had been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the massacre, which helped turned the tide of support for the U.S.-led invasion.

Her departure from the White House was applauded by Democrats, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts basically saying on Twitter, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

The American Federation of Teachers issued a two-word statement: "Good riddance."

Elaine Chao

Elaine Chao and husband Mitch McConnell
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The head of the Department of Transportation was one of Trump’s original cabinet appointees. She is also the wife of outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. She stood by the president after his controversial statement in 2017 that there were “very fine people on both sides” of racist violence and demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“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 message to her department. “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.”

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wasn't buying it. "If Sec. Chao objects to yesterday’s events this deeply, she should be working the Cabinet to invoke the 25th amendment - not abdicating the seat that allows her to do so," the congresswoman wrote on Twitter.

As Trump's staff announced their resignations, Democratic lawmakers and at least one Republican were clamoring for Vice President Mike Pence to begin proceedings under the 25th Amendment to declare Trump unfit for office.

But that action appears unlikely with only days left in the current administration, political experts said.

Mick Mulvaney

Mick Mulvaney has resigned the White House.
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A former chief of staff for the president, he also acted as Trump's budget director. Mulvaney also served in Congress as Republican from South Carolina. 

Mulvaney latest position was as special envoy to Northern Ireland, a job he quit on Thursday. He told CNBC that Trump was “not the same as he was eight months ago.” The former loyalist said other staffers were looking to quit, and that some were staying put “because they’re worried the president might put someone worse” in their stead. 

"I can’t do it. I can’t stay," he told the cable network.

Stephanie Grisham

Stephanie Grisham has resigned the White House
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She is a former a White House press secretary, and resigned from her current job as chief of staff to first lady Melania Trump on Wednesday after, effective immediately. She was seen as the first lady's most trusted adviser and protector.

Grisham joined Trump's team during his initial presidential campaign. She did not mention the president in a statement about her abrupt departure.

"It has been an honor to serve the country in the White House. I am very proud to have been a part of Mrs. Trump's mission to help children everywhere, and proud of the many accomplishments of this Administration," Grisham said.

Sarah Matthews

Sarah Matthews has resigned the White House.
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White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews also quit on Wednesday, as rioters overran Congress. 

"As someone who worked in the halls of Congress,” she posted on social media, “I was deeply disturbed by what I saw ... I’ll be stepping down, effective immediately,” she said. “Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.”

Other Departures

Capitol Police Chief Steve Sund, far right.
Capitol Police Chief Steve Sund, far right, in 2017 photo. Getty

Top security officials at the Capitol left their jobs after vigilantes breached security in the House and Senate.

Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund will resign effective Jan. 16, according to a department spokesperson. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he asked for, and received, the resignation of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger on Thursday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she had requested, and received, the resignation of House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving.

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