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Biden admin dismisses Trump appointees, hundreds of DOD advisory board members

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III speaks with Guardsmen at the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., Jan. 29, 2021. (DOD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase)
February 02, 2021

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby announced on Tuesday that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the resignation of all board members on all 42 department advisory committees.

Kirby said during a press conference that Austin was “deeply concerned with the pace and extent of recent changes to memberships in the department’s advisory committees” between November and January, referring to the large number of appointments former President Donald Trump made to the committees at the end of his term.

As a result, hundreds of members on 42 advisory boards must “conclude their service no later February 16,” Kirby said.

Kirby said that the “frenetic activity that occurred to the composition of so many boards” drove Austin to his decision to dismiss members.

Austin also ordered a review of all advisory boards that advise the Department of Defense, which will conclude in June. Only “members that are appointed by Congress or by the president are retained during this review period,” Kirby said.

Last week, the Pentagon had announced it had halted processing several Trump appointees to the boards.

An internal Pentagon memo stated at the time that “all appointments, reappointments and renewals” to the boards would be frozen “pending a thorough review by the new Administration.”

Trump’s 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager David Bossie were among those momentarily prevented from serving, in addition to numerous other Trump loyalists who had been sworn into the boards prior to Biden’s inauguration.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata were two other high profile figures Trump appointed. Gingrich and Tata were appointed to the Defense Policy Board, which specifically advises the DOD’s top civilian officials on defense policies.

Trump had fired at least nine members from the Defense Business Board alone in December and filled their positions with figures close to him. Some of the fired board members lamented on what they viewed was a political decision.

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.

Another member said the board “has never been political, ever.”

DOD advisory boards are comprised of industry experts who serve in a volunteer capacity.