U.S. 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 U.S. Capitol.
In a letter addressed to 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 both house of 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,” she wrote. “Impressionable children are watching all of this, and they are learning from us.
DeVos, 62, is among several Trump administration officials to resign in the wake of the rampage, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao who also stepped down Thursday.
DeVos, had been one of Trump’s most stalwart supporters and, along with Chao, one of the longest-serving members of his administration. But she has recently distanced herself from the president, acknowledging that Biden had won the Nov. 3 election even as Trump continued to make false charges that the vote had been 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 amid the coronavirus pandemic, which many educators and public health officials opposed.
“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 wrote.
But she added that “we should be highlighting and celebrating 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 U.S. Capitol in an attempt to undermine the people’s business.”
DeVos was appointed to the cabinet post despite her lack of experience in education policy. She favored school choice, voucher programs and charter schools, much to the dismay of teachers unions and liberal education activists. She also eased Obama administration restrictions on for-profit colleges. And in 2019, she was hit with a $100,000 fine for violating a judge’s order to stop debt collection efforts against former students of the bankrupt Corinthian Colleges Inc.
She grew up in Michigan, where she promoted educational causes, including school choice. She’s married to formerAmway Corp. President Dick DeVos and is the sister of Erik Prince, the founder of the private military contractor Blackwater USA and a Trump ally. Their father, Edgar Prince, was an engineer and industrialist.
— With assistance by Justin Sink, and Andrew Kreighbaum
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