The Pentagon has ordered the suspension of several appointments to defense advisory boards named by former President Donald Trump during his final days in office as the Biden administration sets its sights on eliminating people considered loyal to the previous commander-in-chief.
The decision puts the brakes on several of Trump’s nominees including his 2016 campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and deputy campaign manager David Bossie from being placed on panels that provide consultation and advice to the Secretary of Defense, at least for now, Politico reported.
The order came via email to advisory board members on Wednesday, the outlet reported, saying it was “confirmed by two people familiar with the discussions.”
The move comes as the Biden administration seeks to vet members of advisory boards “to determine if appointments were politically motivated vice professionally made,” the email says, according to Politico.
The temporary halt applies to people who have not yet completed all the required background checks and paperwork and who have not yet been sworn in to their appointments.
Many new board members, including Earl Matthews and Anthony Tata, were sworn in a day before President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20 after reportedly getting pressure from the Trump White House to get as many placed on boards as possible, including Lewandowski and Bossie. They were undergoing a long process of financial disclosure and security clearances that normally could take weeks or months.
Politico noted that it isn’t clear yet if the Biden administration will try to replace or otherwise take action against people who have already been appointed. That said, the White House is looking at ways to replace last-minute Trump appointments to commissions and various boards across the federal government, some of which have years-long terms.
“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 spokesperson John Kirby told Politico in a statement. “No final decisions have been made with respect to board membership. But we will make the information available should that change.”
Last year, the Trump administration replaced several members from policy and business boards with people believed to be loyal to the former president.
Members of the Defense Business Board received an email in early December from Joshua Whitehouse, the former administration’s DoD liaison, that simply said, “if you are receiving this e-mail, your membership on the Defense Business Board has expired or is coming to an end.”
Following the Trump White House’s pressure to get new people appointed, Matthews, Robert McMahon, Chris Shank, and Bill Bruner were all sworn in as members of the Defense Business Board Jan. 19. The same day, Tata, Scott O’Grady, and Ambassador Charles Glazer were all sworn in to the Defense Policy Board.
Tata, who was serving as the Pentagon’s acting policy chief, was criticized last year for calling former President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader” on Twitter, and for claiming that Islam is a violent religion.
Meanwhile, O’Grady — a former U.S. Air Force pilot shot down over Bosnia in 1995 — has claimed on Twitter that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
In the Wednesday email, advisory board members were reportedly told that effective immediately, “all appointments, reappointments and renewals” to various boards are suspended “pending a thorough review by the new Administration.”
The email noted the decision applies to Defense Business Board, Defense Policy Board, Defense Science Board, Defense Innovation Board, and Defense Healthcare Board appointments.
Also, the DoD’s Senior Executive Management Office has paused processing appointments that had been previously submitted, the email said.
“Several recent Trump appointees were still undergoing vetting and finalizing paperwork, including background checks, offer letters, swearing-in ceremonies and virtual ‘onboarding,’” Politico reported.
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