Matt Pottinger, Stephanie Grisham Quit After Violent Riots

Published January 7th, 2021 - 08:07 GMT
Matt Matt Pottinger and Donald Trump. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
Matt Matt Pottinger and Donald Trump. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
The Deputy National Security Advisor had been planning to stand down on election day but quit early over Trump's part in inciting Wednesday's unrest

Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger has resigned from his role, becoming the latest White House official to quit in outrage over Donald Trump's response to the siege on the US Capitol. Pottinger's departure comes hot on the heels of the announcement that Stephanie Grisham, the former White House press secretary who became chief of staff for Melania Trump, resigned her position on Wednesday effective immediately.

Pottinger handed in his resignation Wednesday in dismay over the day's events where Trump supporters stormed the Capitol sending the seat of the federal government into lockdown, according to Bloomberg

The Deputy National Security Advisor had been planning to stand down on election day. But sources told the outlet he decided to quit early as he was dismayed by Trump's part in inciting the unrest that has so far left four dead. 

Grisham's decision was also said to be based on the riots and sources said more aides including National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien were on the brink of leaving.  She was followed by White House press secretary Sarah Matthews and White House social secretary Anna Cristina Niceta Lloyd.

The exodus from the Trump administration comes as the president has been accused of trying to freeze out his number two. 

Sources said Trump had revoked Vice President Chief of Staff Marc Short's White House access Wednesday after Mike Pence refused to bow to the president's demand that he overturn the election.

O'Brien had also planned to quit Wednesday but was then convinced to stay on in his role, the sources told Bloomberg.  The National Security Advisor had tweeted his praise for Pence's handling of the situation in the Capitol earlier Wednesday, comparing his actions to his response during the September 11 terrorist attacks.  

'I just spoke with Vice President Pence. He is a genuinely fine and decent man,' he tweeted.

'He exhibited courage today as he did at the Capitol on 9/11 as a Congressman. I am proud to serve with him.'

Trump has reportedly viewed O'Brien's tweets as a thinly-veiled attack on him.

Sources said Chris Liddell, assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy coordination, could be next in line to resign. 

Meanwhile, NBC News earlier reported that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, was also considering resigning. 

Grisham was the first White House aide to publicly announce her resignation. 

'It has been an honor to serve the country in the @WhiteHouse . I am very proud to have been a part of @FLOTUS @MELANIATRUMP mission to help children everywhere, & proud of the many accomplishments of this Administration. Signing off now,' Grisham tweeted from her official account. 

Grisham left because of the assault on the Capitol by the president's supporters and the way Donald Trump handled it, a former administration staffer still close to her told She was soon followed by deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews.

'As someone who worked in the halls of Congress I was deeply disturbed by what I saw today. I'll be stepping down from my role, effective immediately. Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power,' Matthews said in a statement.  

Niceta, who also works in the East Wing with the first lady, also submitted her resignation tonight in reaction to today's protest. 

Reports had surfaced throughout the day that some White House aides were considering resigning over the mob scene at the Capitol and Trump's lackluster response to it. 

Trump had encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol and 'fight much harder' during his rally earlier Wednesday. 'And we are going to have to fight much harder,' he said. He reiterated his demands that Pence 'is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country'. 

And he also continued to push unfounded claims of election fraud claiming there has been an 'egregious assault on our democracy.'  'You will never take back our country with weakness,' he said.  

Also at the rally his son Donald Trump Jr. appeared to threaten GOP lawmakers that the Trump family would continue to fight the results of the election.

'These guys better fight for Trump. Because if they're not, guess what? I'm going to be in your backyard in a couple of months!' he told the crowd. He also thanked the 'red-blooded, patriotic Americans' in the crowd 'for standing up to the bulls**' and an expletive-filled rant riling up the crowd. 

Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney and the man who spearheaded his failed election legal battle, also told Trump fans to pursue a 'trial by combat' at the event.

Even when things turned violent, Trump remained silent for much of the afternoon. Sources told Bloomberg it took numerous aides, including his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, 45 minutes to convince the president to even send a tweet condemning the violence.  

The president was even said to be 'pleased' about the siege and was watching the events while walking between the Oval Office and White House dining room, the insiders said. 

He then finally posted a video telling his supporters 'to go home' late afternoon, after President-elect Joe Biden had addressed the nation and condemned the violence. 

Even then, he told his 'very special' supporters inside the Capitol that he loves them and understands their pain. Sources said he had been persuaded by Meadows and Ivanka Trump to put out the video.  

Trump's refusal to condemn the violence in the Capitol, which interrupted the constitutionally-mandated certification of the electoral college vote, drew criticism from several members of his own party and could lead to more people resigning in the coming days.  

While several have chosen to distance themselves from the president, sources said Trump is now lashing out at his vice president over his refusal to reject the electoral votes for Biden.

The president told aides he had banned Pence's chief of staff from the West Wing today, multiple sources said.   

Pence defied Trump Wednesday, vowing to heed to the constitution and not overturn the electoral college as the president had urged him to do. 

Pence sent a letter to the 535 senators and representatives on Capitol Hill ahead of his presiding over the Joint Session that will certify Joe Biden's victory.

In it, he outlined his belief in his role in the proceedings, which he notes is 'ceremonial' and adds that it doesn't include the authority to 'determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.'  

Pence told Trump Tuesday he would not obey his demands, reported the New York Times.   

Sources told Bloomberg Trump believed Short had leaked this to the press and this was one of the reasons for banning him from the West Wing. 

Short was not seen entering the White House all day Wednesday. 

He entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building where Pence has his Vice Presidential Office and which is on the White House campus but did not go to the West Wing.    

Grisham was one of President Trump's longest serving aides, having joined him during the 2016 presidential campaign and lasted until the final weeks of his administration.

She was highly trusted by both Trumps, having been with them since 2015.  

During her tenure as press secretary she carried the distinction of having never held a briefing in the White House press briefing room.  

Grisham clashed with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows when he joined the administration. He shook up the press operation, naming Kayleigh McEnany press secretary in April of this year.

Grisham then went back to the East Wing, where she had been previously the spokesperson for the first lady, to be Melania Trump's chief of staff.  

She is close to Melania Trump with the two women texting often, even when Grisham was moved to the West Wing to hold the triple role of press secretary, communications director and spokesperson for the first lady.   

But last month Grisham was subject to a 'hit piece' in the New York Post with White House 'insiders' blaming her for the first lady missing out on a magazine cover to Meghan Markle

'Out of nowhere and a complete hit piece,' a senior administration official described it to 'I've been trying to figure out what logic can be in it and I can't find it. It's two months until the end of the administration. I really don't understand where this is coming from there.'

Citing 'insiders who have worked for the White House over the past four years' and 'administration loyalists,' the New York Post claimed the first lady has been 'ill-served' by Grisham.

One of the examples they cite is the September 2020 edition of the British magazine Tatler where Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, was featured on the cover instead of Melania Trump, who had given the magazine an interview via e-mail.  

The New York Post is known to be one of President Trump's favorite papers and one he reads daily - meaning the piece was surely noticed by the commander-in-chief. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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