The ninth and likely final public final hearing from the House Jan. 6 select committee took place on Thursday and the committee shared previously recorded testimony from former Trump administration officials, including former Transportation secretary Elaine Chao, who spoke about why she ultimately left the administration after watching the Jan. 6 attack unfold. 

Chao, the wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, resigned her post on Jan. 7, 2021, one day after the insurrection, telling department employees at the time “it has deeply troubled me in a way I cannot set aside.”

In video testimony, she said the events on Jan. 6 were “shocking.” “And it was something that, as I mentioned in my statement, that I could not put aside,” she said.

Elaine Chao, introduces her husband U.S. Senate Republican Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during a campaign stop at the Lexington airport in Lexington, Kentucky, May 19, 2014. 


Chao testified that the events of that day made it was impossible for her to continue in the administration due to her personal values and philosophy. “I came as an immigrant to this country. I believe in this country. I believe in the peaceful transfer of power. I believe in democracy. And so, it was a decision that I made on my own,” she said. 

Chao immigrated to the U.S. when she was in third grade not knowing how to speak English, according to her website. She received her citizenship at the age of 19 and the experience of transitioning to a new country “motivated her to ensure that everyone has access to the opportunities in our country.” 

She attended Harvard Business School and after holding several roles in the public and private sector, she became the first Asian American woman to be appointed to the President’s cabinet in U.S. history. She was first appointed as secretary of labor under President by George W. Bush in 2001 and then secretary of transportation under Trump in 2017.

Earlier this month, President Trump used a racial slur against Chao on his social media platform Truth Social. In the post, Trump criticized both Chao and her husband. In an interview with CBS News’ “Red & Blue” earlier this month, Marc Short, a senior adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence said it was “obviously wrong” for the former president to use a “racial slur” against Chao.

Short, and onetime director of legislative affairs under then-President Trump, called the post “erroneous,” to say the least, highlighting how much Chao has done for the cause of freedom in China. 

“When I — when I saw those tweets at midnight, I sort of assumed the president had taken to drinking at that point,” Short joked. “I think that you know, it’s important to remember that Elaine Chao and her family have been strong crusaders against communist China their whole lives. She’s devoted herself to that. She’s spent time outside of government working at Heritage Foundation, fighting the cause for freedom. She, her family is actually from Taiwan. I think that that certainly was a misplaced and erroneous tweet, to say the least.”

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