Senior official resigns, cites Trump response on race: newspaper

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior African-American U.S. State Department official has resigned because of President Donald Trump's handling of racial tensions, saying his actions "cut sharply against my core values and convictions," the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Mary Elizabeth Taylor, the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, submitted her resignation on Thursday, according to the newspaper.

A State Department spokesman declined comment on whether she had resigned, saying "we do not comment on personnel matters." The agency's website said Taylor took up her post on Oct. 1, 2018.

According to her resignation letter, which was quoted by the newspaper, Taylor's departure was directly related to Trump's response to racial injustice.

There have been widespread protests since the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The officer was charged with second-degree murder.

"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, the newspaper reported.

"I must follow the dictates of my conscience and resign," she added.

In public comments, Trump has called for crack-downs on protesters and stressed a forceful and militarized response to the social unrest sparked by the death of Floyd and others.

His May tweet that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" drew condemnation, although he later sought to walk back the comment and said he understood why Floyd's killing sparked protests about police violence against African Americans.

(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; editing by Richard Pullin)