The Biden administration moved Wednesday to oust 18 allies of Donald Trump who were named to U.S. military academy boards in the final months of the Republican president’s term in office.
Cathy Russell, director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, sent letters to 18 people named to the boards of visitors for the Air Force Academy, Military Academy and Naval Academy calling on them to resign by close of business on Wednesday or they would be terminated.
Among those Biden sought to remove are some high-profile former Trump administration officials, including 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).
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the former Trump officials were asked to resign or face firing.
“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.”
Several of those called on to resign pushed back.
Conway jabbed at Biden, “I’m not resigning but you should.” She went on in a statement to call it a “disappointing but understandable” effort to distract from the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, a rise in COVID cases and a disappointing August jobs report.
Vought on Twitter posted the letter he received from Russell and responded, “No. It’s a three year term.”
Jonathan Hiler, a Navy academy alumnus who served as director of legislative affairs for Vice President Mike Pence, said he was “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,” Hiler posted on Twitter.
Spicer, who now works for the conservative news channel Newsmax, in his own social media posting criticized Biden for trying to terminate Trump appointees, “Instead of focusing on the stranded Americans left in #Afghanistan.”