Top US official resigns over Donald Trump’s handling of racial tensions

19 June 2020, 08:38

Mary Elizabeth Taylor has resigned from her senior post
Mary Elizabeth Taylor has resigned from her senior post. Picture: US Dept of State

By Asher McShane

A top US State Department official has resigned over President Donald Trump’s handling of a recent spike in racial tensions.

Assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs Mary Elizabeth Taylor, the first black person to hold the role, submitted her resignation on Thursday, according to reports.

President Trump’s actions “cut sharply against my core values and convictions,” she wrote in her resignation letter to secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

“The President’s comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions.

“I must follow the dictates of my conscience and resign.”

Ms Taylor was seen as a loyal member of the administration until recently and is a lifelong member of the Republican Party.

She praised Mr Pompeo in the letter, writing that she was “deeply grateful” to him for “empowering me to lead” the team which advised him over the last two years.

She added: “You have shown grace and respect in listening to my opinions, and your remarkable leadership has made me a better leader and team member.

“I appreciate that you understand my strong loyalty to my personal convictions and values, particularly in light of recent events.”

The high-profile resignation follows weeks of widespread protests and rioting after the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis in late May.

He died after a group of officers pinned him on the floor, with one kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Angry protests erupted across the US and around the world after footage revealing the incident in full went viral.

The White House was widely condemned for its actions after authorities forcefully dispersed peaceful protesters at Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House, on 2 June.

The following day, Ms Taylor sent a message to her team of roughly 60 State Department employees, saying that her heart “is broken, in a way from which I’ve had to heal it countless times” over the death of Mr Floyd.

“George Floyd’s horrific murder and the recent deaths of other Black Americans have shaken our nation at its core.

“Every time we witness these heinous, murderous events, we are reminded that our country’s wounds run deep and remain untreated.”