President Joe Biden is firing all military academy board members appointed by his predecessor Donald Trump irrespective of their qualifications. This includes names like Trump's former press secretary Sean Spicer and senior adviser Kellyanne Conway. The decision immediately faced backlash from most of those who were asked to resign including Conway and Spicer.
Six presidential appointees on each academy board â 18 people in total â were told to resign by 6 p.m. Wednesday or be fired. White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday afternoon confirmed the request had been made. However, the White House defended the decision maintaining that the move was about qualifications and not politics.
Politics or Qualification?
Spicer and Conway were appointed to the advisory boards of the Naval Academy and Air Force Academy. Other Trump-era appointees to receive the notice for resignation included former national security adviser HR McMaster, on the board of West Point, and former director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought, according to CNN.
The military advisory boards convene multiple times a year and provide independent advice to the president. Following the notice, many of the board members claimed that the decision is politically motivated and was a purge that draws stiff pushback because their terms were supposed to last three years.
"I think this complete purge shows that the administration is hellbent on the woke mob controlling or having input into military education. Otherwise, why do it?" said one of the board members, who pointed out that Trump didn't perform a similar purge. Meaghan Mobbs, who was appointed to the West Point board, said she disagreed with the Biden administration's decision.
"This is why this is such a big deal: historically it has never been done. 'Unprecedented' is a word you could use here," the board member said.
Fighting Back for Honor
The decision to remove Trump officials from the military advisory boards comes after the Pentagon recently restarted its other advisory boards following the removal of hundreds of appointees from other boards in February. In November, just months ahead of when he was set to leave office, Trump dismissed several longstanding members of the Defense Policy Board ahead of their terms being up.
White House' decision immediately infuriated the board members who were asked to resign or get fired. Vought tweeted the letter sent on Wednesday, adding: "No. It's a three-year term."
Conway also refused to voluntarily step away from the post, saying it was a break from presidential norms that was "petty and political, if not personal".
"Your decision is disappointing but understandable given the need to distract from a news cycle that has you mired in multiple self-inflicted crises and plummeting poll numbers," Conway said making it clear that she won't resign.
"President Biden, I'm not resigning, but you should," she added in a tweet.
Also the decision came as a shock to many. A person close to McMaster said it was ironic that he would be dismissed from West Point's board just days before he's given the Army academy's distinguished graduate award.
"Perfect timing since HR is being honored this weekend as distinguished military graduate at West Point â one of the youngest ever. ... Who better to be on the board? I guess Biden is playing this little game of politics by kicking him off the board [that] even Trump kept Obama appointees on," the person said.
The White House has not identified new appointees to the boards.