Biden fires Trump-appointed officials from military academy advisory boards despite positions being non-partisan

Brigade reformation begins as U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen return to their dorm rooms in Bancroft Hall after completing summer training. Midshipmen will begin the academic school year Aug. 23. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad Runge /Released)

Amit Chaturvedi

Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Biden administration in the United States has asked 18 members of the military service advisory boards, including 11 officials appointed by former president Donald Trump, to either resign or be fired. These 18 officers from the Air Force Academy, the Military Academy, and the Naval Academy were considered to be allies of Trump, all of who had been named to the US military academy boards in the final months of the Republican president’s term in office. The White House, however, insists that the move is not political and was instead taken on the basis of the ‘qualifications’ of the aforementioned personnel.

Among those Biden removed are high-profile Trump advisors — like former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway ( Air Force Academy) and former press secretary Sean Spicer ( Naval Academy) — both of who were appointed just before the former president left office. Other officials include former national security adviser H R McMaster on the West Point board ( US Military Academy), Office of Management and Budget director Russell Vought ( Naval Academy), and former White House liaison to the Justice Department Heidi Stirrup.

These officials received a letter on Wednesday from Cathy Russell, director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, calling on them to resign by close of business on Wednesday or they would be terminated.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the development and told reporters that the officials were forced out of their posts based on President Biden’s “qualification requirements”.

“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,” Psaki said. “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.”

Meanwhile, several of those officials who were ousted from their posts pushed back against the decision.

Conway, the former advisor to the president, said that it is in fact Biden who should resign. She went on in a statement to call it a “disappointing but understandable” effort to distract from the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan, a rise in Covid-19 cases, and a ‘disappointing’ August jobs report.


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