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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 January 2021

US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigns over Washington riot

Stalwart Trump supporter says 'no mistaking' effect of Donald Trump's rhetoric on Wednesday's violence

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos blamed President Donald Trump for the storming of the US Capitol in her letter of resignation. AFP
US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos blamed President Donald Trump for the storming of the US Capitol in her letter of resignation. AFP

US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos submitted her resignation on Thursday, becoming the second member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to quit over the riot by his supporters at the US Capitol.

In a letter addressed to Mr Trump, she squarely laid the blame for the mayhem in Washington at the feet of the president, who encouraged the mob before they marched to Capitol Hill on Wednesday afternoon as Congress prepared to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

“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,” Ms DeVos said.

She is among several Trump administration officials to resign over the rampage, including Transport Secretary Elaine Chao, who also stepped down Thursday.

Ms DeVos, 62, was one of Mr Trump’s most stalwart supporters and, along with Ms Chao, one of the longest-serving members of his administration.

But Ms DeVos recently distanced herself from Mr Trump, acknowledging that Mr Biden won the November 3 election even as Mr Trump continued to make false claims that the vote was rigged.

In her letter, which was released by the Department of Education, she highlighted what she called the administration’s “many accomplishments", including her push to reopen schools during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many educators and public health officials opposed the move.

“Mr President, I know with certainty that history will show we were correct in our repeated urging of and support for schools reopening this year and getting all of America’s students back to learning,” she said.

“We should be highlighting your administration’s many accomplishments on behalf of the American people. Instead, we are left to clean up the mess caused by violent protesters overrunning the US Capitol in an attempt to undermine the people’s business.

“Impressionable children are watching all of this and they are learning from us.”

Ms DeVos was appointed to the Cabinet despite her lack of experience in education policy. She favoured school choice, voucher programmes and charter schools, much to the dismay of teachers unions and liberal education activists.

She is married to former Amway president Dick DeVos and is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of the private military contractor Blackwater USA and an ally of Mr Trump.

Updated: January 9, 2021 10:32 PM

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