Biden administration begins removing Trump appointees from military academy boards

  • In Politics
  • 2021-09-08 23:37:27Z

WASHINGTON - The Biden administration asked 11 officials appointed by former President Donald Trump to military service academy advisory boards to resign or be dismissed, CNN first reported Wednesday.

The list includes prominent members of Trump's cabinet, such as former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, former senior counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway and former national security advisor H.R. McMaster.

Spicer was appointed to the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy, Conway to the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Air Force Academy and McMaster to the Board of Visitors of the United States Military Academy West Point.

The dismissals come after The Pentagon reorganized its advisory boards after a purge of former Trump appointees in February.

Russell Vought, former director of the Office of Management and Budget under Trump, posted to Twitter a copy of a letter from Catherine M. Russell, director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, in which he was asked to resign as a Member of the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy.

"No. It's a three year term," Vought tweeted.

Military academy advisory board members typically serve three-year terms, CNN confirmed.

Spicer also tweeted a copy of his letter and wrote "Instead of focusing on the stranded Americans left in #Afghanistan, President Biden is trying to terminate the Trump appointees to the Naval Academy, West Point and Air Force Academy."

In a letter addressed to Biden, Conway accused the president of using the dismissals to distract from current events, including the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"Three former Directors of Presidential Personnel inform me that this request is a break from presidential norms," she wrote. "It certainly seems petty and political, if not personal."

According to the letters, the positions were terminated at 6 p.m. Wednesday, barring a resignation.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the administration asked for the resignations.

"The president's objective is what any president's objective is - to ensure you have nominees and people serving on these boards who are qualified to serve on them and who are aligned with your values," Psaki said at a White House press briefing Wednesday.

She added: "I will let others evaluate whether they think Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer and others were qualified, or not political, to serve on these boards. But the president's qualification requirements are not your party registration. They are whether you're qualified to serve and whether you're aligned with the values of this administration."

Other Trump appointees asked to resign from advisory board roles are retired Gen. John Keane; Heidi Stirrup, an appointee to the Air Force Academy's Board of Visitors who was banned from the Justice Department building for pressuring staff to give up sensitive information about election fraud; and John Coale, a prominent Washington lawyer.

Keane, who was dismissed from the Board of Visitors at West Point, told Politico it is "very disappointing that President Biden is not upholding the previous president's appointments which has been pretty much the tradition."

Coale, an appointee to the Naval Academy Board, told the outlet he was "pissed off" about his firing.

Contributing: Joey Garrison, The Associated Press

Reach out to Chelsey Cox on Twitter at @therealco.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden tells Trump appointees to military academy boards to resign


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