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Trump fires 9 DoD Business Board members, appoints allies

A view of the Pentagon. (AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
December 07, 2020

Nine members of the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board were removed by the White House on Friday and replaced with people loyal to President Donald Trump, including Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.

On Friday, Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller announced the appointments of Henry Dreifus, Robert McMahon, Cory Mills, Bill Bruner, Christopher Shank, Joseph Schmidt, Keary Miller, Alan Weh, Earl Matthews, Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie , who were selected for “their expertise and executive management experience in the private and public sectors.”

The Defense Department’s announcement is the latest in the Trump administration’s efforts to implement changes in the DoD amid voter fraud allegations and state election contests.

Lewandowski served as Trump’s campaign manager in 2016 and became a senior adviser to the 2020 campaign, promoting its legal challenges to this year’s election results.

Bossie was Trump’s deputy campaign manager in 2016 and was recently tapped to handle President Trump’s efforts to challenge the election.

“I’m proud to welcome each of these new members to the Defense Business Board and I look forward to their contributions to help guide the Department’s business efforts in the coming years,” Acting Secretary Miller said. “These individuals have a proven record of achievement within their respective fields and have demonstrated leadership that will serve our Department, and our nation well.”

The announcement said the members whose positions or tenures had been terminated were Michael Bayer, Arnold Punaro, Atul Vashisitha, John O’Connor, David Venlet, Paul Dolan, Scott Dorn, David Walker and David Van Slyke.

“I want to thank each of these members for volunteering their time and talents in service to the Department of Defense and in turn, our country,” Acting Secretary Miller said.

Board members who were removed reportedly received an email from White House liaison to the Department of Defense Joshua Whitehouse, which stated, “if you are receiving this e-mail, your membership on the Defense Business Board has expired or is coming to an end.”

“A number of board members have been terminated with a form letter. In my experience, I was very surprised that the White House would, at the eleventh hour, adjust an advisory board that for 19 years has had a record of nonpartisan support with the department,” now former-board member Michael Bayer told POLITICO.

Bayer went on to add that “this kind of move really will weigh heavily on people in the future and their willingness to serve on these outside advisory boards if they’re going to be subjected to political loyalty tests. It’s unprecedented. I’m just saddened.”

Politico reported that the board members, who had not received negative feedback or warnings, were shocked by the terminations. One board member, who asked Politico to remain anonymous, said the board “has never been political, ever.”

“You are talking about 15, 20 executives, business leaders, government leaders, who are giving their time to serve the nation and not even a thank you note,” the board member said. “It’s just about simple gratitude and appreciation for people.”

The terminations come just weeks after President Donald Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, leading to a number of resignations including the Defense Secretary’s chief of staff and top officials involved in intelligence and policy.