President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room at the White House on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images)
By Elizabeth Stauffer September 9, 2021 at 11:36am
President Joe Biden’s determination to politicize the U.S. military was on full display when his administration demanded the resignation of 18 Trump appointees currently serving three-year terms on service academy advisory boards on Wednesday.
These appointments typically continue into new administrations. According to The New York Times, the boards include “a mix of lawmakers and presidential appointees who advise and oversee the institutions on matters including morale, discipline and curriculum.”
The letter, sent to the appointees by Catherine Russell, the director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, demanded they either resign by 6 p.m. that evening or be dismissed.
Below is the letter received by Russell Vought, who served as a director of the White House Office of Management and Budget during the Trump Administration.
No. It’s a three year term. @WhiteHouse pic.twitter.com/c9pZOENNPR
— Russ Vought (@russvought) September 8, 2021
Kellyanne Conway, who was a senior counselor to former President Donald Trump, currently serves on the Air Force Academy’s advisory board. She delivered the smackdown Biden deserved Wednesday in a letter addressed directly to him.
“Three former Directors of President Personnel inform me that this request is a break from presidential norms,” she wrote. “It certainly seems petty and political, if not personal.
“The result is that faithful and willing public servants will be discouraged or thwarted from service. Our service academies will risk being further politicized and polarized.”
Do you believe Biden did this for political purposes?
“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,” she continued.
“It was also a privilege to serve a President whose actions resulted in the deaths of terrorists like al-Baghdadi and Qasem Soleimani, rather than a President whose actions resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. service members.”
“I’m not resigning, but you should.”
President Biden, I’m not resigning, but you should. pic.twitter.com/HuRYM4bLYP
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) September 8, 2021
Conway was far from the only appointee who refused to resign.
Sean Spicer, who served as press secretary and communications director early on in the Trump administration and now serves on the Naval Academy board, addressed the “unprecedented” action on his Newsmax show Wednesday evening.
He said he refuses to resign and indicated he “will be joining a lawsuit to fight this.”
“At a time when the administration is dealing with, you know, COVID, Afghanistan, the effects of Hurricane Ida, what are their priorities? Apparently, they’re prioritizing flying to California to campaign for Gov. Newsom and firing veterans from service academies,” Spicer said.
He hit the nail on the head when he told viewers the Biden administration was possibly going to such lengths so it could “inject liberal ideology like critical race theory into the curriculum and they want to ensure there’s no pushback and zero oversight.”
“These bodies have been free from politics and worked in a bipartisan way until today. This administration made them political. Not one Obama appointee on these boards was removed when Trump came in. Not a single one. This move has taken partisanship to a new level.”
At the @WhiteHouse press briefing today @PressSec @jrpsaki questioned my qualifications to serve on the Board of Visitors to the US Naval Academy. I responded tonight @newsmax Watch below https://t.co/cz7Ap96Ijc
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) September 8, 2021
Johnathan Hiler, a Naval Academy graduate who served as former Vice President Mike Pence’s director of legislative affairs, announced that he would not be resigning.
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
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the move at her briefing on Wednesday.
She was asked if she could confirm that the administration had “asked appointees from the last administration to resign from various boards, including the West Point Advisory Board and the Naval Academy Board, and why?”
“Yes, we have,” Psaki said. “And the president’s objective is what any president’s objective is — was 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.”
“Is there any concern that, because a lot of these appointees do go across administrations, that there is a risk of politicizing these non — traditionally non-controversial positions?” the reporter pressed.
“Well, 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 answered. “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.”
According to CNN, other Trump appointees included in the blatantly political purge attempt were: Trump’s second National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster; Heidi Stirrup, who served as the acting director of Office of Refugee Resettlement; Michael Wynne, a former Secretary of the Air Force; retired American four-star Army Gen. Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the United States Army and a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient; former Pentagon official and retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor; and retired Army Capt. Meaghan Mobbs.