Washington (US): US Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar in his departure letter to President Donald Trump said that the president’s role in inciting last week’s violent riot at the Capitol has threatened to ‘tarnish’ administration’s accomplishments.
According to The Hill, Azar sent the White House a letter announcing his departure from the administration on January 20, the day President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated. It is standard practice for government appointees to send a departure letter at the end of an administration.
Trump’s evidence-challenged claims that the election was fraudulently stolen from him and the subsequent mob on the Capitol could “tarnish” the administration’s achievements, said the secretary in the letter.
“Unfortunately, the actions and rhetoric following the election, especially during the past week, threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this Administration,” Azar wrote in the letter as quoted by The Hill.
“The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power that the United States first brought to the world,” Azar added.
“I implore you to continue to condemn unequivocally any form of violence, to demand that no one attempt to disrupt the inaugural activities in Washington or elsewhere and to continue to support unreservedly the peaceful and orderly transition of power on January 20, 2021,” the health secretary said further.
Media reports suggested that Azar was resigning over the riots “effective immediately”, but he is not and will continue to serve through the end of the Trump administration.
“With the pandemic raging, the continued need to deliver vaccines and therapeutics to the American people, and the imperative of ensuring a smooth transition to the Biden Administration, I have determined that it is in the best interest of the people we serve to remain as Secretary until the end of the term,” he wrote.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao both submitted their resignations over the mayhem at Capitol Hill that led to the death of five people, and bipartisan lawmakers have cast blame for the chaos on Capitol Hill at Trump’s feet.
Trump — sans evidence — told supporters for weeks with disputed claims of widespread fraud in the presidential election and incited the mob last week before it descended on Capitol Hill.
The president told the raucous crowd “you have to show strength” and “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Trump created history on Wednesday when the House of Representatives — the lower chamber in the US Congress — impeached the President for the second time for “willfully inciting violence against the government”.
Azar, however, did praise the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic — noting it rolled out “therapeutics and vaccines to the American public in record time”.
“Please allow me to conclude by thanking the more than 85,000 men and women at the Department of Health and Human Services,” Azar wrote and added, “If I have left this Department that I love a better place than I found it, I shall count my tenure a success.”