Black US State Dept official quits after Trump race response

By: AFP      Published: 12:57 PM, 19 Jun, 2020
Black US State Dept official quits after Trump race response

A State Department official, one of the highest-ranking African Americans in Donald Trump's administration, submitted her resignation Thursday citing concern over the president's handling of recent racial tensions, The Washington Post reported. 

Mary Elizabeth Taylor was unanimously confirmed as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs in 2018 after working for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and in the White House.

Taylor, 30, was the first black woman and the youngest person ever to serve in the role, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's liaison to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

But Taylor said in her resignation letter that Trump's response to widespread protests over systemic racism and police brutality "cut sharply against my core values and convictions," according to the letter, obtained by the Post.

"Moments of upheaval can change you, shift the trajectory of your life, and mold your character," she wrote. 

"I must follow the dictates of my conscience and resign as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs."

Since the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, Trump has threatened to deploy the military against demonstrators and staged a photo op at a church near the White House after law enforcement cleared peaceful protesters from the area with smoke bombs and pepper rounds.

He tweeted "when the looting starts the shooting starts" -- a phrase from the racially charged civil rights era in the US south -- and scheduled a campaign rally on the June 19 Juneteenth holiday marking the end of slavery in the US. 

Earlier this month, Taylor sent a message to about 60 other State Department employees, according to the Post, indicating solidarity with those who were also in pain over Floyd's death. 

"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," her note said, according to the Post. 

Taylor's move appears to make her the first high-profile administration official to publicly leave a post in response to the president's actions following the outbreak of nationwide racial turmoil, according to the newspaper.