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Biden admin ousts Trump appointees from military academy advisory boards

Kellyanne Conway, the former White House counselor to then-President Donald Trump, told the Biden administration on Wednesday that she would not resign from her position on the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Air Force Academy after she was among the 18 Trump appiontees asked to step down. File Pool Photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI
Kellyanne Conway, the former White House counselor to then-President Donald Trump, told the Biden administration on Wednesday that she would not resign from her position on the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Air Force Academy after she was among the 18 Trump appiontees asked to step down. File Pool Photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 8 (UPI) -- The Biden administration on Wednesday removed multiple appointees to military advisory boards by former President Donald Trump.

A total of 18 Trump appointees were ask to resign with Chris Meagher, a White House spokesman confirming in a statement to The New York Times that all had "either resigned or has been terminated from their position."

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, earlier Wednesday confirmed to reporters during a press briefing that Catherine Russell, director of White House Office of Presidential Personnel, had sent letters to Trump allies on various military advisory boards, including those for West Point, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force, seeking their resignation.

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"Yes, we have," she said.

President Joe Biden's objective, she said, is to ensure those serving on these boards "are qualified" and "are aligned with [Biden's] values."

"So, yes, that was an ask that was made," she said.

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Kellyanne Conway, former Trump adviser; Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary during the Trump administration; and Russ Vought, Trump's White House budget director, were among those to confirm they received letters requesting their resignation prior to 6 p.m. Wednesday when their positions on their various boards would be terminated.

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Conway, who was a member of the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Air Force Academy, called the decision "petty and political, if not personal."

"I'm not resigning, but you should," she wrote to Biden in a letter posted to Twitter.

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Spicer, a member of the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy, told right-leaning news organization Newsmax for which he works, that he will not resign and will file a lawsuit against the administration.

"At a time when the administration is dealing with, you know, COVID, Afghanistan, the effects of Hurricane Ida, what are their priorities? Apparently ... firing veterans from service academies," he said.

Military advisory boards provide the academies with advice with the U.S. Naval Academy saying the duty of the members, who serve a three-year term, is to "inquire into the state of morale and discipline, the curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods and other matters relating to the academy, which the board decides to consider."

Psaki rejected the notion that the Biden administration was politicizing the rather largely ceremonial positions by suggesting those asked to step down were not qualified to serve on the boards.

"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," she said.

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The move comes after the Trump administration before leaving office appointed dozens of allies and former advisors to government boards, Politico reported.

Since taking office, the Biden administration has sought to undo that and in February, the Department in Defense launched a review of all of the Pentagon's advisory boards, which would make recommendations for each one concerning retention, realignment and termination by June 1.

Last week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III approved for 16 of those advisory committees to resume operations.

Meaghan Mobbs, a military veteran, said all Trump-appointees to the West Point Board of Visitors Advisory Board including herself were asked to step down, and accused the board of being "hijacked by partisan action."

Johnathan Hiler, who was former Vice President Mike Pence's director of legislative affairs, tweeted he was among those who would not resign.

"As an alum and former naval officer, I believe developing leaders capable of defending our country's interests at sea -- U.S.N.A's mission -- is not something that should be consumed by partisan politics," he tweeted. "Apparently, President Biden feels differently."

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