Syosset native Elaine Chao said it was “impossible” to remain U.S. Transportation Secretary under ex-President Donald Trump after the U.S. Capitol riot, according to a newly released video of her congressional interview.
Chao, whose husband is U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), had resigned immediately after a mob of Trump supporters tried to disrupt Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, leaving six dead, as lawmakers were voting to certify President Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election.
“I think the events at the Capitol, however they occurred, were shocking,” she said in a short clip of her interview played Thursday by the congressional committee investigating the riot. “And it was something that … that I could not put aside. And at a particular point, the events were such that it was impossible for me to continue given my personal values and my philosophy.”
She had previously told staffers in her resignation letter that the riot “has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.” She was one of many Trump staffers to quit in the waning days of his presidency and the first high level member of the administration to leave immediately after the riot. At the same time, Trump continued to push the false claims of fraud to his millions of supporters.
The House Jan. 6 committee also showed prerecorded interviews with other Cabinet members, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, who said they believed that once the legal avenues had been exhausted, that should have been the end of Trump’s effort to remain in power.
Pompeo, who was interviewed by the panel since its last hearing in July, said in his videotaped testimony that he believed that once the Electoral College certified the vote, that was the end of the process for contesting the election.
“We should all comply with the law at all times, to the best of our ability — every one of us,” Pompeo said.
The latest revelations came as the committee took the extraordinary action of subpoenaing Trump on Thursday. He has not commented on the escalation of the investigation. But he had taken aim at Chao earlier this month.
In a post on his social media website Truth Social in which he criticized McConnell, Trump wrote that the senator “must immediately seek help and advise from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!” Critics, including some fellow Republicans, have blasted the comment as racist.
“I came as an immigrant to this country,” Chao said in her video testimony explaining her departure from the Trump administration. “I believe in this country. I believe in a peaceful transfer of power. I believe in democracy. And so I was a — it was a decision that I made on my own.”