Chad Wolf, the acting US Secretary of Homeland Security, has become the third cabinet secretary to resign following the storming of the US Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump.
In a message to staff in his department, Mr Wolf said he was resigning due to “recent events,” including legal challenges to his authority to run the department on an interim basis without confirmation from the Senate.
Although he did not refer to the attack on Capitol Hill, his resignation follows Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw his appointment as head of the agency after Mr. Wolf urged the president to condemn acts of violence committed in the name of the president.
“This action is justified by recent events, including pending and unfounded court decisions regarding the validity of my authority as Acting Secretary,” Mr. Wolf wrote. “These events and concerns increasingly serve to distract attention and resources from the important work of the ministry during this critical period of power transition.”
His resignation comes as an increasingly isolated Mr. Trump disappeared from public view, deprived of his ability to communicate with his 88 million Twitter followers after the social network deactivated his account.
Mr. Wolf’s departure follows the resignation of two other cabinet department secretaries, Elaine Chao in transport and Betsy DeVos in education, as well as a series of departures of administration employees, aftermath of the assault on the US Capitol.
The attack by an angry pro-Trump mob prompted Democrats to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president, whom they accused of inciting an insurrection.
Mr Trump is under more pressure than at any time during his administration in the wake of the assault, which came hours after urging his supporters to come to Capitol Hill to protest the outcome of an election that , according to him, was tainted with electoral fraud.
Democrats have called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution which provides a mechanism to remove a president.
Mr Pence is not expected to respond to the demand, paving the way for a vote Wednesday in the democratically controlled House of Representatives to impeach Mr Trump.
This would pave the way for a Senate trial where Democrats are unlikely to gain the support of a sufficient number of Republicans to convict Mr. Trump, even though a number of GOP senators have criticized the president for his handling of the situation.
Had Mr Wolf remained in his post, he would have played an important role in helping to ensure the safety of Mr Biden’s nomination on January 20 amid concerns of renewed violence both in Washington and also in the state capitals of the country.
Earlier Monday, Mr Wolf told the Secret Service to start preparing for the inauguration on Wednesday, a full week before the event rather than a day before as scheduled. US media reported that the The FBI had warned on the potential for “armed protests” across the United States next week.
The resignation of Mr Wolf, whose agency oversees border security, came the day before Mr Trump was due to travel to Texas to visit the US-Mexico border and praise his limited progress in building the wall which was a central element of his 2016 presidential campaign.
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