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‘They’re resigning to avoid invoking the 25th Amendment’: Rash of resignations draws pushback

Representative Ayanna Pressley.Tom Williams/Associated Press

Thursday saw a rash of White House and Cabinet resignations after President Trump incited his supporters to charge the Capitol building while members of Congress were certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Among those who have resigned so far are Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Northern Ireland envoy Mick Mulvaney, Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger, First Lady Chief of Staff Stephanie Grisham, and White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews.

The timing of the resignations, coming amid bipartisan calls for Trump’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him from office, angered some.

“Don’t call these cabinet resignations anything but a Profile in Cowardice,” Representative Ayanna Pressley said in a tweet Thursday night. “They’re resigning to avoid invoking the 25th amendment. Congress and the people see right through it. We must impeach & remove.”


Elizabeth Warren echoed those sentiments in the wake of DeVos’ resignation.

“Betsy DeVos has never done her job to help America’s students,” the Massachusetts Senator said on Twitter. “It doesn’t surprise me one bit that she’d quit rather than do her job to help invoke the 25th Amendment.”

The resignations are increasingly being considered a late and purely symbolic gesture by people who have stood by President Trump even as he promoted baseless claims of election fraud and repeatedly refused to accept his loss. For that, Pressley, Warren, and others argue they shouldn’t be fleeing their posts in the final hour. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board said the resignations could leave the country “dangerously unmanned,” and said that National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien “in particular should stay at his post.”

Some of those who left the administration excoriated the president for egging on his supporters ahead of the Capitol riot, but glossed over the role they might have played in enabling Trump.


“Clearly [Trump] is not the same as he was eight months ago,” Mulvaney told CNBC after resigning from his position.

A Politico article published late Thursday night paints a picture of White House staffers worried about their reputations and next jobs.

“I personally think Charlottesville was worse than what happened yesterday and if you didn’t resign after that, it’s kind of a [expletive] move to do it 14 days before the transfer of power,” a senior Trump administration official told Politico. “It shows a lot of selfishness. ‘Let’s make it about me. I’m resigning because I don’t like what happened.’”

Others, Politico’s Daniel Lipman wrote, had work benefits on their mind, and wondered whether it was worth it to burn more paid vacation time.

“Some were reluctant to depart before their formal off-boarding date because doing so could leave them ineligible for unemployment benefits as they begin a job search,” Lipman wrote.

One lower-level Trump official was reportedly unimpressed by his colleagues fleeing the scene, saying they were engaged in “pearl-clutching trying to save face for future employment.”

“If anything, I hope to pitch [Wednesday] one day as ‘look if you want to talk about an employee who can continue to produce and continue to have a good attitude in the toughest, highest stakes and highest pressure situations, [that’s me],’” the official reportedly told Lipman. The official apparently already submitted his resignation letter, but it’s effective Jan. 20, the date the Biden administration takes over. .


Brittany Bowker can be reached at Follow her @brittbowker and also on Instagram @brittbowker.