Chris Lieberman, FISM News
The Biden administration delivered an ultimatum to 18 Trump-appointed members of military academy service boards on Wednesday: resign or be fired. The appointees include former Senior Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
This demand is a break from precedent, as appointees to military academy boards typically serve 3-year terms, and traditionally presidents have allowed those appointed by previous administration to remain in place. For reference, the Trump administration allowed all of former president Obama’s appointees to continue at their posts.
At a press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the move, saying, “The president’s objective is what any president’s objective is – 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.”
Psaki then went on to say, “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, 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.”
Reaction from those asked to step down was swift and decisive. Conway tweeted out a letter in which she told the president, “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
Meanwhile, Spicer said on his Newsmax show on Wednesday, “I’m announcing tonight for the first time that I will not be submitting my resignation and I will be joining a lawsuit to fight this.” He then went on to target Psaki, 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.”
Spicer also tweeted, “Instead of focusing on the stranded Americans left in #Afghanistan, President Biden is trying to terminate the Trump appointees to the Naval Academy, West Point and Air Force Academy.”
Megan Mobbs, a West Point graduate and Afghanistan veteran, was also among those asked to resign. She pointed out the hypocrisy of this move coming from a president who ran on a promise of unifying the country, tweeting, “Frankly, I find this whole act unconscionable and not all in the spirit by which this Administration promised to govern. President Biden ran on a supposed platform of unity but his actions speak directly to the contrary. Apparently, unity is only for those who conform.”
Each of the 18 Trump appointees were members of the advisory board at either West Point, the Naval Academy, or the Air Force Academy. According to the Air Force Academy’s website, their Board of Visitors “is an oversight board established to inquire into the morale, discipline, social climate, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters relating to the Academy.”
Despite the position being largely ceremonial, these board positions have become yet another arena for partisan politics.