Who Resigned from Trump Administration After Capitol Riot?

The list of resignations grew quickly as many tried to distance themselves from the president and his mob of supporters.

  • Published 7 January 2021
  • Updated 8 January 2021
Image via BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

After a violent mob attacked the U.S Capitol on Jan 6., 2021, resulting in destruction and at least four deaths, the number of people resigning from incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration grew.

Many sought to distance themselves from the violent events of that day that appeared to be encouraged by Trump in a speech he made rejecting the results of the November 2020 presidential election. The mob sought unsuccessfully to disrupt Congress’ certification of Joe Biden as president-elect, which was taking place on the same day.

The resignations occurred just two weeks before the official end of the Trump presidency. Below is a running list of aides and officials who resigned from office following the events of Jan. 6, along with any public statements they made:

  • Mick Mulvaney, special envoy to Northern Ireland: “I can’t do it. I can’t stay,” Mulvaney, who was also Trump’s former chief of staff, said in an interview. “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 […] We didn’t sign up for what you saw last night. We signed up for making America great again, we signed up for lower taxes and less regulation. The president has a long list of successes that we can be proud of […] But all of that went away yesterday, and I think you’re right to ask the question as to ‘how did it happen?’” Mulvaney added that Trump was “not the same as he was eight months ago.”
  • Stephanie Grisham, first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff: “It has been an honor to serve the country in the White House. I am very proud to have been a part of Mrs. Trump’s mission to help children everywhere, and proud of the many accomplishments of this administration,” Grisham said in a statement. She did not mention whether the rioting of Jan. 6 contributed to her decision but a source told Reuters that the events were the last straw.
  • Sarah Matthews, White House deputy press secretary: “I was honored to serve in the Trump administration and proud of the policies we enacted. As someone who worked in the halls of Congress I was deeply disturbed by what I saw today,” Matthews said. “I’ll be stepping down from my role, effective immediately. Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.”
  • Matt Pottinger, White House deputy national security advisor: Pottinger resigned in response to Trump’s reaction to a mob of his supporters breaching the Capitol. He told people there was very little for him to consider, a source told CNN.
  • Elaine Chao, transportation secretary: The first of Trump’s cabinet members to quit since the riot, Chao said in a statement, “Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed. 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.” Chao is married to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 
  • Tyler Goodspeed, acting chairman, Council of Economic Advisors (CEA): “The events at the U.S. Capitol yesterday led Tyler to conclude his position was untenable,” a CEA spokesperson said.
  • Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general, Civil Rights Division, Justice Department: Dreiband announced his departure in a statement, where he said, “Our Constitution and civil rights laws embody the ideals that all persons have worth, and are entitled to equal justice, respect, decency, peace, and safety. It is the duty of government to secure these rights, and it is the duty of the Civil Rights Division to protect all people in this nation against any violation of these rights, including hate-motivated violence, exploitation, unlawful discrimination and bigotry, and any other infringement of our Constitutional and federal civil rights.”
  • John Costello, deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and security, Commerce Department: In a statement on his Twitter account, he said: “Yesterday’s events were an unprecedented attack on the very core of our democracy – incited by a sitting president,” and he was left with “no choice” but to resign.
  • Betsy Devos, education secretary: In a letter submitted to Trump, Devos wrote, “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. That behavior was unconscionable for our country. There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”
  • Hunter Kurtz, assistant secretary for Public and Indian Housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: In an email to colleagues, Kurtz said he was resigning due to events at the Capitol on Wednesday, one person familiar with his remarks said.
  • Hope Hicks, White House counsellor to the president: Hicks will depart a week before the end of Trump’s term. She has told colleagues it is not because of the violence at the Capitol. 
  • Chad Wolf, acting secretary for Homeland Security: Days after Wolf condemned the events at the Capitol, he resigned with a statement saying, “I am saddened to take this step, as it was my intention to serve the Department until the end of this Administration. Unfortunately, this action is warranted by recent events, including the ongoing and meritless court rulings regarding the validity of my authority as Acting Secretary. These events and concerns increasingly serve to divert attention and resources away from the important work of the Department in this critical time of a transition of power.” He did not cite the riots in his resignation statement, instead he referred to ongoing litigation challenging his tenure. 
  • Ryan Tully, senior director for European and Russian affairs, National Security Council: No public statement was given. 
  • Anna Cristina “Rickie” Niceta, White House social secretary: No public statement was given. 

We will update this list as more information becomes available. 

Recent Updates
  1. Jan. 8, 2021: Updated to include announcements from Hicks.
  2. Jan. 8, 2021: Updated to include announcements from Devos and Kurtz.
  • Published 7 January 2021
  • Updated 8 January 2021