The name of Mary Elizabeth Taylor may not ring a bell with you but she’s making headlines now for officially resigning from her position in the Trump administration. She is a senior State Department official who has been with the Trump administration since its beginning. She serves as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs.
Ms. Taylor is no newbie to politics. So who is she? She’s a graduate of Bryn Mawr College with a degree in Political Science. She’s a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In July 2006 she began interning in the Senate and is a former assistant in the Senate Republican cloakroom, where deals are made. While working for McConnell her job included cultivating relationships with Republican senators. Most notably, she worked on the team guiding Supreme Court Justice nominee Gorsuch through the Senate confirmation process. She captured social media attention when she sat behind Gorsuch, next to his wife during his confirmation hearings. “Twitter has a crush on her!” In 2010 she interned with Koch Industries.
Something also important to know about Ms. Taylor is that she is African-American and young, at 30 years of age. She is one of the highest-ranking African-Americans in the Trump administration, and the youngest person to ever hold her position, so her resignation was bound to make the news. She is described as a loyal member of the Trump administration and a lifelong Republican.
In her White House role, she helped shepherd more than 400 presidential appointments through the Senate, including those of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell and Pompeo.
All of this is to say she knew for whom she signed on to work. Due to the recent protests and the Black Lives Matter rise in the country, she now says that she can’t continue to work for President Trump. She wrote a five-paragraph letter of resignation that, of course, the Washington Post acquired.
“Moments of upheaval can change you, shift the trajectory of your life, and mold your character. The President’s comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and Black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions,” Taylor wrote in her resignation letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “I must follow the dictates of my conscience and resign as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs.”
Gorsuch administered Taylor’s oath of office at her swearing-in ceremony in December 2018 at the State Department. In her position as assistant secretary of state, Taylor served as Pompeo’s chief liaison to Capitol Hill.
“I am deeply grateful to you, Mr. Secretary, for empowering me to lead this team and strategically advise you over these last two years,” Taylor wrote in the resignation letter she submitted to Pompeo. “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.”
Ms. Taylor is the first high-profile resignation made because of Trump’s handling of recent racial tensions. She comes from a family with a history of public service – her mother served as the White House’s director of media relations under President George H.W. Bush and was the first black woman to hold that job. Mitch McConnell’s spokesman said Thursday, “Leader McConnell appreciates Mary Elizabeth’s service to the Republican Conference and our nation.”
It just seems that the irony is rich in this resignation. A young, black woman is put into a position of power within a presidential administration and she resigns because this president’s actions “cut sharply against my core values and convictions.” When exactly did she realize that? She has been with Trump from the beginning of his administration and was present during the White House meeting between President Trump and Senator Tim Scott after the white supremacists marched in Charlottesville and their rally turned deadly. According to a message she sent to her team, the aftermath from George Floyd’s death has gotten to be too much for her.
On June 3, Taylor sent a message to her team of roughly 60 State Department employees, acknowledging that in the aftermath of Floyd’s death that her heart “is broken, in a way from which I’ve had to heal it countless times.”
“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,” Taylor wrote in her note, also obtained by The Post. “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.”
When the going gets tough, sometimes not everyone can rise to the occasion and be a part of solving problems. In this case, Ms. Taylor just got going – out the door.