After President Donald Trump incited a riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos responded with an understandable degree of outrage. By her own account, she had conversations with colleagues about convening the cabinet and using the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office. She even broached the possibility with Vice President Mike Pence—who shot the idea down. When these conversations went nowhere, DeVos submitted her resignation.
It is, historically speaking, highly unusual for a president’s education secretary to lead a behind-the-scenes effort to remove him from office, and you might be forgiven for assuming that this would have really been the end of DeVos’ relationship with Trump. But if you’ve been paying attention to Republican politics over the last six years—or really just over the last year-and-a-half—then you probably have a decent idea of how that’s going.
On Saturday, the New York Times published a letter that DeVos recently sent to Trump, asking him to support Tudor Dixon, her preferred candidate for governor of Michigan. Supporters of Dixon’s rivals have sought to steer Trump away by tying her to DeVos. But in the letter, DeVos—whose wealthy family has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into conservative politics over the years—rejected the notion that “my family and I are working against you,” calling it “fake news.”
“Our family has supported you and we are in fact working together,” she continued, noting the candidates they both endorsed. And she referred to the Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as “that woman from Michigan,” the phrase Trump infamously used to describe the incumbent.
Trump formally endorsed Dixon late last week. Dixon, a former anchor at the far-right Real America’s Voice network, raised her hand at a debate in May when candidates were asked if they believed Trump had won Michigan. (Joe Biden won Michigan.)
DeVos’ letter is clarifying. She and other intra-party critics might have their differences with Trump—on policy and on tone. They might be pining for the days when they can hitch their wagons to someone else. But for now, they still can’t afford to cut ties so easily.