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Why has Betsy DeVos submitted her resignation?

The Republican Education Secretary DeVos Thursday announced her resignation following riots in which Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Wednesday.

Why has Betsy DeVos submitted her resignation?
JIM WATSON AFP

Crisis in federal government and the Republican party in particular has been at fever pitch since a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters - many of whom were right-wing extremists from groups such as the Proud Boys and QAnon - stormed, trashed and looted the Capitol building in historic unrest on Wednesday night.

The violence escalated after a demonstration took place in Washington Wednesday afternoon, over baseless election fraud claims that the president and his aides have purported since he lost the 3 November election. The surrounding rhetoric and misinformation lead many supporters to wrongfully believe that the election has been stolen by Joe Biden.

Five people have now been confirmed dead including one Capitol police officer, as a result of the political violence in the Capitol, with up to 80 arrests already made. World leaders and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have condemned the extraordinary events and particularly Trump’s part in fanning the flames. As well as a wave of resignations in cabinet, a number of Republicans have now spoken out against the president and called for him to be removed from office.

Why has Betty DeVos handed in her resignation?

In a resignation letter dated Thursday 7 January, DeVos said that she believed President Donald Trump's role in spurring on the mob that breached the US Capitol on Wednesday to be "the inflection point," and expressed concern for the example the president is setting for the country's next generation.

The Education Secretary called the rioters' behaviour "unconscionable" and spoke directly to Trump "there is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me….impressionable children are watching all of this, and they are learning from us," she added.

"I believe we each have a moral obligation to exercise good judgment and model the behaviour we hope they would emulate. They must know from us that America is greater than what transpired yesterday."

DeVos resignation: not the first, may not be the last

On Thursday morning Elaine Chao, Trump’s transport secretary and wife of former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced that she would be resigning her post. Chao became the first cabinet member to leave the White House over the events in the Capitol and her willingness to do so, so close to the end of Trump’s term, show the strength of feeling. In her statement she wrote, “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.”

Another key figure to have left the White House is Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former acting chief of staff who told a CNBC interview on Thursday: “I can’t do it. I can’t stay”. Mulvaney was serving as special envoy to Northern Ireland when he informed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of his decision and adds that many others are considering a similar stand.

He told CNBC: “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.”

Trump U-turns twice on public messaging amid inner conflict

Trump’s flip-flopping between messages of support, validation and even “love” for the rioters – or domestic terrorists – and their denunciation seems to stem from an inner tussle within the president to avoid a steady trickle of protest mass GOP resignations and a desperate attempt to salvage what’s left of the president’s withered ego to his extremist base.

Once his Twitter account was reinstated on Thursday following a brief suspension, Trump first posted a video addressing the rioters contradicting his appreciative message of Wednesday night. This time Trump came down much harder on followers who stormed the Capitol saying that he was he was “outraged” by the “heinous” attack, and that those who broke the law would pay.

Then Friday afternoon following backlash online from the rioters who expressed hurt and betrayal by Trump after they “risked their lives” for him, Trump again performed a U-turn, promising that nobody who voted for him would be “disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form.”

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