In an unprecedented move, President Biden told 18 of former President Trump’s appointees to the U.S. military academy boards to resign or be fired.
On Wednesday, the White House sent 18 letters to Trump appointees currently serving on the boards of visitors for the Air Force Academy, Military Academy, and Naval Academy ordering them to resign by 6 p.m. on Wednesday or else be terminated.
According to the Associated Press, letters were sent to such high-profile names formerly associated with the Trump administration as “White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (Air Force Academy), press secretary Sean Spicer (Naval Academy), national security adviser H.R. McMaster (U.S. Military Academy) and Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought (Naval Academy).”
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president’s mass firing of appointees stemmed from his desire to appoint qualified candidates and had nothing to do with politics:
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 are aligned with the values of this administration.
According to Military.com, the ousters come months after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin enacted a review of all Defense Department advisory boards following President Trump’s exit from the White House:
The pressure to resign comes months after the boards in question were suspended by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shortly after he took office in early February. Austin ordered a review of all the Defense Department’s advisory boards after his predecessor, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, frenetically removed and replaced dozens of members in the time between Trump’s election loss and Biden’s inauguration.
The replacements were often Trump loyalists, such as senior adviser Conway; fundraiser and White House adviser Matt Schlapp; and impeachment attorney Pam Bondi.
In one instance, Miller fired nine members of the Defense Business Board and appointed 11 new ones, including Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, two senior members of the former president’s 2016 campaign team.
Speaking on his show on Newsmax, Sean Spicer said he will not be resigning from his position with the Naval Academy, citing his past military service:
Joining the military and wearing the uniform of this amazing country remains one of my greatest decisions in life. For 22 years, I’ve had the honor of serving alongside some of the most talented, patriotic, and brave individuals this country has to offer. I’m a proud graduate of the U.S. Naval War College. I’ve done multiple tours, and politics has never entered into my service. I’ve served under five different presidents of both parties.
Spicer further argued that Biden’s push to oust former Trump appointees stems from a desire to push far-left ideologies on the military academies, such as Critical Race Theory (CRT), without any blowback.
Kellyanne Conway also announced that she would not be resigning. “President Biden, I’m not resigning, but you should,” she said in a Twitter post sharing the original letter.
President Biden, I'm not resigning, but you should. pic.twitter.com/HuRYM4bLYP
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) September 8, 2021
Jonathan Hiler, a Navy academy alumnus who served as director of legislative affairs for Vice President Mike Pence, also said he will not resign. Hilwe tweeted:
I am not resigning. As an alum and former naval officer, I believe developing leaders capable of defending our country’s interests at sea–USNA’s mission–is not something that should be consumed by partisan politics. Apparently, President Biden feels differently.
I am not resigning. As an alum and former naval officer, I believe developing leaders capable of defending our country's interests at sea–USNA's mission–is not something that should be consumed by partisan politics. Apparently, President Biden feels differently. @WhiteHouse pic.twitter.com/fmtRGbBnQg
— J. Hiler (@jHiler) September 8, 2021