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With just weeks left, DeVos resigns after Trump instigates Capitol violence

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in 2018.
AFP via Getty Images

Betsy DeVos, who campaigned for President Trump’s re-election and served as his education secretary for four years, has resigned.

She tendered her resignation one day after a mob incited by Trump stormed the Capitol, insisting that the election has been stolen. “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.”

The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The resignation ends an unusual relationship for DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist who lasted much longer than most of Trump’s initial Cabinet picks.

When Trump was running for president in 2016, she initially declined to back him. But while in office, DeVos strongly supported his push for schools to reopen their buildings during the coronavirus pandemic. Leading up to Trump’s reelection bid, she appeared at campaign events and regularly criticized the now President-elect Joe Biden.

At the same time, she issued a pointed statement in 2017 after Trump declined to condemn white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia. She clashed with him over funding for the Special Olympics. And there was never any indication that Trump had put his political weight behind expanding school choice — DeVos’ signature issue.

She resigns effective Friday, joining a small exodus from the Trump administration this week. With just two weeks until Biden’s inauguration, the move sparked immediate criticism that it amounted to a hollow gesture or was an attempt to sidestep questions about Trump’s fitness for office.

“Resigning 13 days before the end of this administration does nothing to erase the harm Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has done to this country’s students, their families and educators,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, which bitterly fought with DeVos throughout her tenure.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that DeVos resigned after she came to believe that removing Trump via the 25th Amendment was not a viable option, according to an unnamed administration official.

DeVos had a rocky confirmation, and she quickly become a lightning rod among educators. During her tenure, DeVos axed Obama-era guidelines for schools that provided protections for transgender students and limited the scope of civil rights investigations. But she did not succeed at encouraging substantial numbers of students to opt out of public schools with new private school voucher programs.

In her resignation letter, DeVos said the education department’s work would be marred by Trump’s recent actions.

“We should be highlighting and celebrating your Administration’s many accomplishments on behalf of the American people,” she wrote. “Instead, we are left to clean up the mess caused by violent protestors overrunning the U.S. Capitol.”

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