President Joe Biden’s decision to fire 18 of his predecessor Donald Trump’s appointees to the advisory boards of U.S. service academies has so far elicited no comment from Pennsylvania’s Republican Party.
On Thursday, The Star News Network contacted the Pennsylvania GOP, the office of Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and the offices of each Republican member of Congress from Pennsylvania asking for their response to the action the White House took the day before. At this writing, none have provided comment.
Each service academy’s “Board of Visitors” exists to “inquire into the morale and discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters relating to the academy that the board decides to consider,” according to the United States Military Academy West Point.
The purpose of purging the boards of West Point, the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy of Trump appointees, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday, was to “ensure [the president] has nominees and people serving on these boards who are qualified to serve on them and who are aligned with [his] values.”
Biden asked six members from each board to resign; anyone who did not comply with his request was fired by 6 p.m., according to the White House. Among those who were let go were former senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, former Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer, former Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought, Trump adviser Meaghan Mobbs, former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, former Pentagon advisor Col. Douglas Macgregor, former Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Jack Keane, former U.S. Army North commander Guy Swan III, American Battle Monuments Commission Chair David Urban and Trump attorney John Coale.
Not everyone forced to go went quietly.
“Three former Directors of Presidential Personnel inform me that this request is a break from presidential norms,” Conway wrote in a letter to the president. “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.”
Conway was correct that the round of terminations deviates from earlier practice. Those who Barack Obama appointed to service-academy boards remained in those posts during Trump’s presidency.
Further into her letter, Conway posited that Biden undertook the firings to distract from negative press attention due to rising COVID-infection numbers, a border-enforcement crisis, disappointing reports on jobs and inflation as well as a tumultuous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“I’m not resigning,” Conway concluded, “but you should.”
Vought also did not leave without pushing back. After receiving a letter from the White House asking for his resignation, Vought tweeted the letter with a reply: “No. It’s a three year term.”
Spicer, speaking on Newsmax, addressed Psaki’s comments, saying, “Don’t you dare ever minimize or question my service to this nation, you got it? This move has taken partisanship to a new level.” The former press secretary said he plans to litigate against his termination.
Mobbs and Urban called the administration’s action “unconscionable.”
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