Alex Azar, Secretary for Health and Human Services, at the White House in Washington, DC on August 23, 2020.
Pete Marovich | Getty Images
Minister of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is stepping down Jan. 20, NBC News reported Friday.
In his January 12 resignation letter, Azar mentions the uprising in the U.S. Capitol last week in which a violent crowd of President Donald Trump’s supporters broke through the building, injuring dozen police officers and causing four deaths.
Azar wrote that “post-election actions and rhetoric, particularly last week, threatened to tarnish the legacy of this government”. “The attacks on the Capitol were an attack on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transfers of power …”
Azar’s resignation came after U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and several other Trump administration officials resigned after the president was accused of inciting the violence by instructing protesters to go to the U.S. Capitol, where the legislature set the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. The mob descended on the Capitol shortly after the trial began on Wednesday to count the votes of the electoral college and confirm Biden’s election.
In a tweet last week, Azar condemned the riot, saying he was “disgusted”.
“Physical violence and the desecration of this sacred symbol of our democracy must come to an end. People must disperse immediately and peacefully,” he said on Twitter.
Trump selected Azar, a former pharma executive, to head the U.S. agency in late 2017, replacing Trump’s first HHS boss, Dr. Tom Price. His department is responsible for overseeing extensive Medicare and Medicaid programs, as well as US public health, medical research, and food and drug safety. He was an integral part of the government’s Covid-19 response.
Prior to joining, Azar was General Counsel to the division from 2001 to 2005 and Assistant Secretary from 2005 to 2007. From 2012 to 2017 he was President of Lilly USA, the American arm of drug giant Eli Lilly.
Azar’s resignation comes amid a one-off pandemic. The US currently has more than 23.33 million cases of coronavirus and has by far the most virus deaths, with more than 389,000 confirmed deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Federal and state officials are trying to distribute vaccines to prevent Covid-19 and end the pandemic.
Read Azar’s full resignation letter below:
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