Top White House Officials Led by O’Brien Consider Resigning
Donald Trump’s top National Security Council officials and a deputy White House chief of staff are considering resigning over the president’s encouragement of protests that led to his supporters storming the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter.
Those who are discussing stepping down include National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and his deputy, Matt Pottinger, the people said. Also considering resigning is Chris Liddell, assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy coordination, the people said.
A deputy White House press secretary, Sarah Matthews, said she had resigned over Wednesday’s violence at the Capitol, in which one unidentified woman was killed by a gunshot.
“As someone who worked in the halls of Congress I was deeply disturbed by what I saw today,” she said in a statement. “I’ll be stepping down from my role, effective immediately. Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.”
Trump’s decision to urge his supporters to gather in Washington on Wednesday while Congress certified the election, then direct them to march on the Capitol, has caused turmoil in the White House. Earlier Wednesday evening, first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, resigned, as well as the White House social secretary, Anna Lloyd, according to people familiar with the matter.
Some of Trump’s loyalists were angry that O’Brien signaled his displeasure with the president in several tweets on Wednesday, including one that openly praised Vice President Mike Pence after he defied Trump’s demands that he unilaterally reject Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden during the joint session of Congress.
The post was interpreted within the White House as criticism of Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.
CNN reported earlier that O’Brien, Pottinger and Lidell are considering resigning. NBC News earlier reported Matthews’s resignation.
The White House declined to comment.
Also Wednesday, the president told aides not to allow Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, into the White House, the people said.
Trump acted out of anger toward Short for multiple reasons, according to people familiar with the matter, including a New York Times report that Pence had told him he would not seek to halt the certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory. Trump blamed Short for the story, one person said. Another person said Trump doesn’t trust Short, and Short doesn’t like Trump.
Short was at the building on Wednesday anyway, according to one person familiar with the matter.
— With assistance by Josh Wingrove, and Nancy Cook
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