Health Secretary Alex Azar submitted a resignation letter to President Trump, effective Jan. 20, that says the Capitol raid and events leading to it “threaten to tarnish” what they accomplished together in developing vaccines, disclosing health care prices and keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of children.
Mr. Azar’s letter is dated Jan. 12 — nearly a week after the Trump-incited riot — and is relatively standard. It confirms his departure on Inauguration Day.
But the secretary, who frequently praises the president’s agenda, expressed his disgust at the events that upended Washington and led to Mr. Trump’s second impeachment by the House. He said the developments will cloud their advancements in fighting opioid addiction, HIV/AIDS and their “remarkable response” to the coronavirus epidemic that’s killed nearly 400,000 people in the U.S.
“Unfortunately, the actions and rhetoric following the election, especially during this past week, threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this administration,” Azar wrote in the letter that was obtained by the New York Times and then tweeted by the secretary. “The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power that the United States of America first brought to the world.”
Other Cabinet secretaries, including Elaine Chao of transportation and Betsy DeVos, have resigned their posts, citing the Capitol raid as the administration gets ready to give way to President-elect Joseph R. Biden and his team on Wednesday.
Mr. Azar said he wanted to stay until the end of Mr. Trump’s term to ensure a smooth handoff to the Biden team, given the ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.
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