Some politically motivated appointees from the Trump administration, like Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, remain quite difficult to extract from their positions in government. Others, however, can be cast aside with the stroke of a pen, an action the Biden administration took on Tuesday when the director of the White House’s Presidential Personnel Office wrote to 18 Trump appointees on military academy boards, saying they must submit their resignations or be fired.
The officials include several notable figures from the previous administration who were appointed in its final days, including former press secretary Sean Spicer, former senior counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who were each appointed to the boards advising the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, and West Point, respectively. Others on their way out include the former White House liaison to the Justice Department, Heidi Stirrup — who was banned from the main Justice building after trying to access information about nonexistent election fraud — and retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, whose nomination as the U.S. ambassador to Germany stalled last year after past comments emerged in which he described Muslim refugees coming to Germany as “unwanted invaders.” Stirrup was on the board of the Air Force Academy, and Macgregor on West Point’s board.
On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the order, saying: “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.” According to the language on the Air Force Academy website, the boards advise the institutions on the “morale, discipline, social climate, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters.” Terms normally expire after three years.
While some of the Trump appointees agreed to resign, Trump’s Office of Management and Budget director Russ Vought tweeted a screenshot of the White House request saying: “No. It’s a three year term.” Sean Spicer used the opportunity for self-promotion, saying that he would respond on his show on Newsmax.