Pentagon halts appointment of Trump loyalists to advisory boards
The Pentagon has halted the installation of several Trump loyalists to advisory boards as the department reviews appointments that were made in the waning days of the Trump administration.
“The Secretary, as you would expect, is reviewing current policies in place across the department to determine if any changes are necessary, to include the advisory boards,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement. “No final decisions have been made with respect to board membership. But we will make the information available should that change.”
The move was first reported by Politico.
Following the November election, the Trump administration removed longstanding experts on several Pentagon advisory boards, such as former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright from the Defense Policy Board, and named Trump loyalists as their replacements.
The Biden administration’s pause reportedly affects allies of former President Trump who have yet to complete their paperwork, including former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager David Bossie. Both were chosen to serve on the Defense Business Board after the Trump administration fired nine board members.
The pause will also affect former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller’s choices to serve on the congressionally mandated commission tasked with planning how to rename Confederate-named military bases, according to The Washington Post.
The legislation that established the commission stipulates that four members are to be chosen by the Defense secretary, while the chairmen and ranking members of both the House and Senate Armed Services committees are to choose one each.
At the beginning of the month, Miller appointed Joshua Whitehouse, the White House liaison to the Defense Department who was involved in some of the post-election purges at the Pentagon. Miller also appointed Sean McLean, a White House associate director; Ann Johnston, the then-acting assistant secretary of Defense for legislative affairs; and Earl Matthews, an Army colonel who previously served as principal deputy general counsel for the Army and on Trump’s National Security Council.
Trump advisory board appointees who already completed their paperwork are reportedly not affected by the Pentagon’s freeze, including Anthony Tata, the former acting Pentagon policy chief who had to withdraw his nomination for the job after inflammatory tweets resurfaced. Trump appointed him to the Defense Policy Board, and he and two other of Trump’s board appointments were sworn in the day before the inauguration.
Advisory board members serve at the pleasure of the Defense secretary, so Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin could still oust any of Trump’s appointments if he chooses to.