A Trump supporter cried in the lobby of the Capitol Hill Hotel on Thursday as she poured herself a cup of coffee and told her friend that her son had disowned her for joining in Wednesday’s chaos at the U.S. Capitol. But minutes later, when the driver of a car yelled at a group of haggard Trump supporters to “get the f— out of our city,” she joined a chorus of others to respond with their own expletives.
While supporters of President Donald Trump checked out of their hotels in Washington on Thursday morning, sharing feelings of sadness, anger, defensiveness and paranoia with one another, residents of the nation’s capital said they were glad to see them leave after a day of terror.
“As a brown person, I wasn’t allowed to go out,” said a man who lives near Capitol Hill, who asked to remain anonymous because he is a government employee. “I watched it on television. It’s really unbelievable that something like that could happen. When the BLM protests were going on, we saw so much more police presence. I don’t know or understand what happened yesterday.”
Trump supporters did not have many answers, either, although they provided numerous conspiracy theories.
As many of Trump’s fiercest partisans packed their cars or ordered rides to the airport, they talked about their experiences and developed fresh ideas about potential cabals aimed at undermining them. They appeared to make many leaps about how a protest in support of Trump in the early afternoon became a full-blown riot within the chambers of Congress by the time the sunset over the Potomac River.
While Trump said Wednesday that he loved the rioters at the Capitol and called them “very special,” he condemned them Thursday and called for their prosecution in a video message posted to his recently unlocked Twitter account.
“America is and must always be a nation of law and order. The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy,” said Trump, who faces growing calls from lawmakers for his impeachment. “To those who engaged in acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay.”
Hours before the about-face, some claimed that their protest had been infiltrated by the network of loosely organized radical groups called “antifa,” although there is no evidence, while others suggested that the lack of law enforcement had created something of a reverse Trojan horse.
Here is a running list of Trump administration officials who have tendered their resignations so far:
Elaine Chao speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, Feb. 28, 2020. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Chao, the transportation secretary, announced her resignation on Thursday afternoon. She is the first Cabinet secretary to resign as a result of the Capitol riot.
In a letter to her colleagues, Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, cited Wednesday’s events as a reason for her departure.
“Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed,” Chao 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.”
Chao’s resignation is effective Jan. 11.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the White House in July of last year. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
DeVos, the secretary of education, announced her resignation Thursday night, becoming the second member of Trump’s Cabinet to resign in the wake of the violence at the Capitol.
In her resignation letter to Trump, DeVos said there is “no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”
“Impressionable children” were watching the events at the Capitol, she added, and “we each have a moral obligation to exercise good judgment and model the behavior we hope they would emulate.”
Mick Mulvaney, then acting White House chief of staff, at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 28, 2020. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Mulvaney, Trump’s former acting chief of staff, told CNBC Thursday that he had resigned from his current post as special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland. He said he had called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday night to inform him of his decision.