The White House confirmed on Wednesday that 11 Donald Trump appointees to military service academy advisory boards, among them former US press secretary Sean Spicer and adviser Kellyanne Conway, were asked to step down – or be fired.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said: “The president’s [Trump’s successor Joe Biden’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. And so yes, that was an ask that was made.”
Advisory boards exist to provide non-binding advice to the various academies.
As defined by the United States Military Academy at West Point and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, the boards “inquire into morale and discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods and other matters”.
Each board has a mix of members of Congress and presidential appointees. Members appointed by Barack Obama remained in place under the Trump administration.
Mr Trump appointed Mr Spicer, a commander in the US naval reserve, to the advisory board for the naval academy. Ms Conway, campaign manager for Mr Trump in 2016, was appointed to the board for the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Ms Psaki said: “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.”
Mr Spicer tweeted that Mr Biden should be focusing instead “on the stranded Americans left in Afghanistan”,
Spicer and Russ Vought, director of the office of management and budget under Mr Trump and also appointed to the naval academy board, tweeted a White House letter that said if they did not resign they would be fired “effective 6pm tonight”.
HR McMaster, a retired army general who was Mr Trump’s second national security adviser; Jack Keane, a retired general; Guy Swan, a retired general; Douglas Macgregor, a retired colonel and Pentagon official; Meaghan Mobbs, a West Point graduate and psychologist, and David Urban, a West Point graduate, lobbyist, political strategist and sometime Trump adviser, were also all asked to step down or be fired. – Guardian