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Washington Post: One of the highest ranking Black women in Trump's administration resigns over his response to nationwide demonstrations

CNN logo CNN 6/19/2020 By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Donald Trump et al. standing on a sidewalk © Patrick Semansky/AP

A top State Department official is resigning from her post over President Donald Trump's response to the surge of protests against racial injustice and police brutality across the nation, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Mary Elizabeth Taylor, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, wrote in a resignation letter Thursday obtained by the Post that "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 as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs," Taylor, one of the highest ranking Black women in the Trump administration, said.

Reached for comment, a State Department spokesperson told CNN, "We do not comment on personnel matters."

Taylor's resignation comes as Trump continues to lean into his forceful approach to the ongoing demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. The gruesome video of Floyd's killing while in Minneapolis police custody has prompted the kind of soul searching about the role of police in society and systemic racism that many advocates have urged for decades.

But Trump's efforts to address the demonstrations have, in many ways, garnered criticism and sown division.

Earlier this month, he declared himself "your president of law and order" and vowed to return order to American streets using the military if widespread violence isn't quelled. "If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said in the White House Rose Garden.

According to the Post, Taylor sent a message to her team of State Department employees acknowledging Floyd's "horrific murder" earlier this month.

"For our team members who are hurting right now, please know you are not alone. You are seen, recognized, heard, and supported. I am right here with you," she wrote at the time.

And while she praised Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his "remarkable leadership" in her resignation letter Thursday, some State Department officials have suggested Pompeo should address his workforce on the issue that, in many ways, directly impacts their work.

So far, he has declined to do so, sources familiar with the suggestion have explained to CNN.

Instead, Pompeo has been largely silent on the matter -- leaving US diplomats at home and overseas feeling abandoned as they face questions about the unrest from their counterparts around the world.

Some are fearful that the nation's top diplomat is putting his personal political interests and his relationship with Trump ahead of his department's need for guidance and leadership.

a person posing for the camera: Mary Elizabeth Taylor appears in this official State Department photograph. © US Department of State Mary Elizabeth Taylor appears in this official State Department photograph.
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