WASHINGTON — The fallout from the the siege on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Trump's crusade to overturn the 2020 presidential election continues as Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced her resignation.
Ms. Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has been in President Trump's cabinet since the very early days of his administration in 2017.
But the storming of the Capitol moved her to leave her position, albeit only days before she would have lost the job in the transition to the Biden Administration.
Ms. Chao, on Jan. 7, sent out a tweet explaining her move.
"Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the president stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed," she wrote. "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."
Ms. Chao's resignation is effective Jan. 11, and she said she would help incoming Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg "with taking on the responsibility of running this wonderful department."
Hundreds of Mr. Trump's supporters broke into the Capitol the afternoon of Jan. 6, with one of them shot and killed by security, after attending a rally a short distance away held by the president, who repeatedly has claimed the election was stolen from him.
The breach delayed Congress from counting electoral college ballots, the last step in certifying Joe Biden's victory over Mr. Trump.
For his part, Mr. Trump issued a video statement about two hours into the melee.
"This was a fraudulent election, but we can't play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You are very special," he told the protesters.
Mr. Trump also said he knows the protesters' "pain."
The scene at the Capitol is unlike any other in U.S. history. The last time the Capitol was breeched was 1814 when British forces attacked and burned the building during the War of 1812.
The Transportation Department is an important agency for those in the tire and rubber industries due to its oversight powers.
Both the Tire Industry Association and the Automotive Service Association declined an opportunity to comment on Ms. Chao's move, but the Auto Care Association did issue a statement when contacted.
"Auto Care appreciates Secretary Chao's service the past four years, and we look forward to working with the Biden Administration's nominee, Pete Buttigieg, to address many of the transportation issues on the Association's agenda, including access to in-vehicle data and rebuilding of America's transportation infrastructure," Aaron Lowe, senior vice president of regulatory and government affairs for ACA, said in an email.
Anne Forristall Luke, CEO of the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, also issued a statement.
"The USTMA thanks Secretary Chao for her years of service and focus on issues at NHTSA important to tire manufacturers and American motorists. We witnessed with profound regret the events at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6th that precipitated the secretary's resignation and look forward to working together with the incoming administration and 117th Congress to advance policies and dialogue that will benefit all Americans," Ms. Luke said.
"USTMA looks forward to working with the Biden Administration on a bold vision for modernizing America's infrastructure and the importance of modernizing the regulatory framework for tire performance and consumer safety given the significant technology-driven changes that are already transforming the transportation sector," she said.