(The Hill) – Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says that the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 was the final straw for her in standing by former President Trump, confirming that she was open to using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
DeVos, who writes in a new book about turning in her resignation letter to Trump the day after the Capitol insurrection, blames the former president’s refusal to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election for blocking her efforts to pass her last piece of school choice agenda legislation through Congress.
She was the second Trump Cabinet member to step down on Jan. 7, following Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
“To me, there was a line in the sand,” DeVos writes in “Hostages No More: The Fight for Education Freedom and the Future of the American Child,” which comes out June 21. “It wasn’t about the election results. It was about the values and image of the United States. It was about public service rising above self. The president had lost sight of that.”
DeVos’s book marks the first time she has publicly spoken out about her decision to resign in the waning days of the Trump administration.
In a new interview for the book with USA Today’s Ingrid Jacques, DeVos said that the events of Trump’s final weeks in office “put roadblocks in the way” of the then-Education secretary accomplishing her final legislative goals.
“I went to Washington to do a job on behalf of the American people and particularly for students, and a lot of what happened after the election sort of put roadblocks in the way of doing any major additional work, so I really felt that everything I could accomplish in office had been accomplished based on that reality and that dynamic,” DeVos told Jacques.
“And then when I saw what was happening on Jan. 6 and didn’t see the president step in and do what he could have done to turn it back or slow it down or really address the situation, it was just obvious to me that I couldn’t continue,” she said. “I was thinking about the kids I was there to represent, and what they are seeing and what they are taking away from this — it was not defensible in any way.”
The interview comes ahead of the first prime-time hearing Thursday evening for the House select committee investigating Jan. 6. Lawmakers are expected to depict Trump at the center of massive effort to overturn the 2020 election.
DeVos also said that she was shocked when Trump turned against then-Vice President Mike Pence for remaining committed to certifying the election results. She said that she spoke with other Cabinet members about the option of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him, noting that there were “more than a few people” in the White House who considered the move.
“I spoke with the vice president and just let him know I was there to do whatever he wanted and needed me to do or help with, and he made it very clear that he was not going to go in that direction or that path,” DeVos said, confirming earlier reporting that she resigned after it became clear that invoking the 25th Amendment was not on the table.
“I spoke with colleagues. I wanted to get a better understanding of the law itself and see if it was applicable in this case. There were more than a few people who had those conversations internally.”
DeVos faced a significant amount of controversy during her time in the Trump administration, particularly related to her lack of experience in the field of education. Before she took on the role of education secretary, DeVos had been a major donor to Republican campaigns.