Biden purges Trump appointees from Naval, Air Force academies, West Point
Category: News & PoliticsVia: vic-eldred • one week ago • 13 comments
By: Steven Nelson (New York Post)
President Biden is firing all military academy board members appointed by former President Donald Trump — regardless of their qualifications — in a purge drawing stiff pushback because their terms were supposed to last three years.
Six presidential appointees on each academy board — 18 people in total — were told to resign by 6 p.m. Wednesday or be fired.
"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.
"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.
Russ Vought (right) was asked to resign or be fired from the Naval Academy's board of visitors.Evan Vucci/AP Photo
The ousted include former national security adviser HR McMaster, a retired Army lieutenant general who resisted Trump's noninterventionist impulses and criticized Biden's recent Afghanistan troop pullout.
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 — 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.
John Coale was asked to resign or be fired from the Naval Academy's board of visitors.Brandon Bell/Getty Images
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the terminations by scoffing at the qualifications of former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway to be on the Air Force Academy board and former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, a longtime Navy Reserve officer, to be on the Naval Academy board.
"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 at her daily press briefing.
"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."
Conway shot back in a tweet: "President Biden, I'm not resigning, but you should."
Spicer, now a TV host for Newsmax, said that Psaki "crossed a line today" in mocking his credentials and that he "will be joining a lawsuit to fight this."
"So Jen, you want to know about my qualifications? … for 22 years I've had the honor of serving alongside some of the most talented, patriotic and brave individuals this country has to offer," he said.
The White House has not identified new appointees to the boards.
Those fired from the West Point board include retired Gen. Jack Keane, a former vice chief of staff of the Army, retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, Afghanistan war veteran and clinical psychologist Meaghan Mobbs, Bronze Star recipient and businessman David Urban and retired Army Lt. Gen. Guy Swan.
Those ousted from the Naval Academy board include Trump's White House budget director Russ Vought, Jonathan Hiler, who worked for former Vice President Mike Pence, and lawyer John Coale — husband to TV host Greta Van Susteren.
Sean Spicer was also asked to leave the Naval Academy's board of visitors.Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
"On behalf of President Biden, I am writing to request your resignation," White House Personnel Director Cathy Russell wrote to the appointees.
"Please submit your resignation to me by the close of business today. Should we not receive your resignation, your position with the Board will be terminated effective 6:00 pm tonight. Thank you."
An aide to Russell, Katie Petrelius, underscored the message in an email, writing, "If we do not receive your resignation by end of day today, you will be terminated."
But many of the board members aren't going quietly.
"No. It's a three year term," tweeted Vought, a recipient of the Pentagon's distinguished public service award for helping increase the size of the Navy fleet. He also emailed that reply to Petrelius.
Rachel Semmel, a spokeswoman for the Center for Renewing America, which Vought leads, said that "I wish Biden would take his commander in chief duties as seriously as he takes retribution against political adversaries."
"At a time when President Biden has left American hostages in Afghanistan and put our military in harm's way instead of focusing on his job as commander-in-chief to keep Americans safe, he is spending his time going after political rivals," she said.
Van Susteren tweeted her husband's termination letter and wrote, "This is lousy… [Coale] merely wanted to help - this is a non partisan Board of Americans volunteering to help."
She added: "And by the way, both political parties do this and it is rotten..how do Administrations expect to foster non partisanship among Americans when they act partisan with volunteer boards that have no power to effectual [sic] American policy?"
Biden's drawn ire over the apparent payback because the trio's terms were supposed to last three years.Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag
Hiler said, "It's not clear what the basis for this purge is. A plain reading of the statute that created the Board in 1879, which includes traditionally bipartisan appointments by congressional leaders, says the president's appointees serve three-year terms."
"To my knowledge, the Service Academy Boards have always enjoyed a tradition of bi-partisanship," Hiler said.
"As an alum and a former naval officer, my only concern is making sure the U.S. Naval Academy is fulfilling its mission of developing officers capable of leading our country's Navy. Defending the country's interests at sea, especially with what's going on in the world today, is not something that should be influenced by partisan politics, and I regret that this Administration apparently sees things differently."
Former Naval officer Anthony Parker and retired Rear Adm. Joseph Walsh are also getting booted from the Naval Academy board, the White House confirmed.
The laws establishing the boards do not clearly explain a president's power to fire members, saying, "The persons designated by the President serve for three years each…. The President shall designate two persons each year to succeed the members whose terms expire that year."
It's not immediately clear which board members will join the legal challenge announced by Spicer. An existing lawsuit led by Air Force Academy board member Heidi Stirrup challenges the Biden administration's decision to suspend the operation of the boards earlier this year.