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White House tells 11 Trump-appointed military service academy board officials to resign or be fired

Some of the officials include Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer.

September 8, 2021 6:15pm

Updated: September 8, 2021 7:15pm

The Biden administration on Wednesday told 11 officials appointed by former President Trump to military service academy boards of visitors that they must either resign or be fired by the end of the day.

Some of the appointees include former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, former senior counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, and former director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought, CNN reported.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday that "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. And so yes, that was an ask that was made."

"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," she added.

The mission of the Air Force Academy's Board of Visitors, which is the same for both West Point and the Naval Academy, is that it "inquires into the morale, discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods and other matters relating to the Academy which the Board decides to consider."

The Trump appointees for the Naval Academy's Board of Visitors include Spicer, Vought, and John Coale.

Those who were told to resign or be fired from the Air Force Academy's Board of Visitors are Conway, the former White House liaison to the Justice Department, Heidi Stirrup, and Michael Wynne.

The West Point Board of Visitors members appointed by Trump are McMaster, former Pentagon official, retired Col. Douglas Macgregor, retired Gen. John Keane, Meaghan Mobbs, and David Urban.

Conway responded to the White House with her own letter on Twitter, saying, "President Biden, I'm not resigning, but you should."

She mentioned that she spoke with "[t]hree former Directors of Presidential Personnel" who had informed her "that this request is a break from presidential norms."

Conway added that the move will result in "faithful and willing public servants" being "discouraged or thwarted from service. Our service academies will risk being further politicized and polarized."

Vought also posted his response on Twitter, tagging the White House and saying, "No. It's a three year term."

Spicer responded to CNN's request for comment saying he would give his response to the White House's demand on his TV show. Wynne told CNN he was disappointed that he was not asked to stay and that "it was an honor to be on the board."

Keane told the cable network, "Very disappointed to see the Biden administration not honor a previous president's appointment to the board of visitors, which has been the tradition for years."

Mobbs said in a statement that she wouldn't resign.

"Frankly, I find this whole act unconscionable and not all in the spirit by which this Administration promised to govern," she said. "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.

"When I joined the Board under the Trump Administration, there were holdovers from the Obama Administration. They were not terminated but instead served alongside Trump appointees. This mix of perspective, experience, and belief systems ensured there was diversity - a value the Democratic party purports to hold above all else."

Urban told CNN that he agreed with Mobbs's statement.

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