Former President Donald Trump's ex-Secretary of Education and billionaire Republican megadonor, Betsy DeVos, was one of the longest serving and most infamous members of Trump's cabinet, despite once describing the former President as an "interloper" who “does not represent the Republican Party.”
As Education Secretary, DeVos helped remove guidances protecting transgender students, students of color, and victims of sexual assault, but finally resigned after Trump's election fantasies incited a deadly insurrection at the United States Capitol.
DeVos wrote in her resignation letter:
"[W]e are left to clean up the mess caused by violent protestors overrunning the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to undermine the people's business. That behavior was unconscionable for our country. There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me."
But it turns out DeVos' actions—or at least those of her foundation—had an impact on the "situation" as well.
A new report from Andy Kroll of Rolling Stone details the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation's hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the Claremont Institute in 2020 and 2021.
The Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Claremont Institute is John Eastman, but the Trump lawyer is now known for authoring an alarming memo on Trump's behalf, arguing that Vice President Mike Pence could singlehandedly throw out electoral votes of swing states Trump lost, ultimately deciding the Presidency. Despite Trump's public pressure campaign, Pence refused and pro-Trump extremists outside the Capitol were chanting for him to be hanged. Security footage revealed that Pence came within moments of interacting with rioters who infiltrated the Capitol.
Eastman also spoke at the so-called Save America rally outside the White House, standing proudly beside Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani as Giuliani advocated for "trial by combat." Eastman told attendees they would "no longer live in a constitutional republic" if the 2020 election wasn't solved. Trump concluded that rally by urging his supporters to march to the Capitol, where the insurrection unfolded minutes later.
Claremont Institute president emeritus and senior fellow Brian Kennedy—as VICE's Cameron Joseph points out—tweeted the day before the riots that "we must embrace the spirit of the American Revolution to stop this communist revolution." Kennedy said he had spent all day at the Capitol.
Responding to Rolling Stone's reporting on the donations, DeVos spokesperson Nick Wasmiller said the Education Secretary's letter spoke for itself and that
“Claremont does work in many areas. It would be baseless to assert the Foundation’s support has any connection to the one item you cite.”
But Claremont Institute lawyers were crafting the arguments that would end in insurrection—an insurrection that moved DeVos to resign. The foundation bearing her name was funding, in part, the Claremont Institute.
The revelations angered social media users.
But it didn't surprise them.
DeVos has said it's possible her family has donated around $200 million to Republican candidates and entities.