Former Trump White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway refused a demand on Wednesday from President Joe Biden to resign as a member of the Board of Visitors for the Air Force Academy.
In a letter addressed directly to Biden, Conway responded, “I’m not resigning, but you should.”
“I am in receipt of the letter you sent me today demanding that I resign from the Board of Visitors to the United States Air Force Academy or be terminated by 6:00pm tonight,” she wrote.
Conway noted several other men and women President Donald Trump appointed to serve on academy boards reportedly received similar letters.
“Cathy Russell, the director of the White House’s Presidential Personnel Office, sent letters to 18 individuals on three different boards, asking for them to resign,” Politico reported. “The list includes the Board of Visitors to the Air Force Academy, Military Academy and the Naval Academy, the White House said.”
Russell said she was sending the letters “on behalf of President Biden.”
Conway pointed out in her response to Biden that such demands were a break from precedent and seemed to be aimed at further politicizing the military academies.
“Three former Directors of President Personnel inform me that this request is a break from presidential norms,” she wrote. “It certainly seems petty and political, if not personal.
“The result is that faithful and willing public servants will be discouraged or thwarted from service. Our service academies will risk being further politicized and polarized.”
Conway — the first woman in U.S. history to serve as campaign manager of a winning presidential race with Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 — further speculated the move by Biden was aimed at distracting from several bad news stories, including the Afghanistan pullout, a dismal jobs report, inflation, the border crisis, rising COVID cases, and his own falling poll numbers.
President Biden, I’m not resigning, but you should. pic.twitter.com/HuRYM4bLYP
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) September 8, 2021
“It was also a privilege to serve a President whose actions resulted in the deaths of terrorists like al-Baghdadi, and Qasem Soleimani, rather than a President whose actions results in the death of 13 U.S. service members,” she concluded in a stinging rebuke of Biden.
Other prominent members of the Trump administration who received letters like that of Conway included former Office of Management and Budget director Russell Vought, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.
In response to the Biden letter, Vought, who serves on the U.S. Naval Academy’s Board of Visitors, simply replied, “No. it’s a three year term.”
— Russ Vought (@russvought) September 8, 2021
Spicer, a Navy Reserve commander who Trump appointed to the Naval Academy’s board, announced Wednesday on Newsmax that he would be joining a lawsuit to seek to block the action by Biden.
BREAKING: As the Biden administration attempts to remove Trump appointees from their Military Academy boards, @seanspicer calls out White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, and announces he will take legal action against the decision. pic.twitter.com/bPgLlJhFzK
— Newsmax (@newsmax) September 8, 2021
Spicer, a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College, believes the move is political and perhaps aimed at taking the academy’s instruction in a liberal direction.
“Maybe it’s because they want to inject liberal ideology, like critical race theory, into the curriculum,” he said, “and they want to ensure there’s no pushback and zero oversight.”
McMaster, a retired three-star general who Trump appointed to the U.S. Military Academy Board of Visitors, is a 1984 graduate of West Point and former instructor there.
“Later this week McMaster is getting honored by West Point’s Association of Graduates as a Distinguished Graduate of the academy,” Politico reported.
Afghan war veteran and 2008 graduate of West Point Meaghan Mobbs responded to Biden’s resignation demand by noting that when she joined under Trump, “there were holdovers from the Obama administration.”
“They were not terminated but instead served alongside Trump appointees,” making for a more diverse board, she tweeted.
Mobbs concluded that Biden’s action “sets a dangerous precedent.”
— Meaghan Mobbs (@mobbs_mentality) September 8, 2021
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the request for resignations on Wednesday.
“The president’s objective is what any president’s objective is was to ensure you have nominees and people serving on these boards who are qualified to serve on them and who are aligned with your values,” she said. “And so, yes, that was an ask that was made.”
“[T]he president’s qualification requirements are not your party registration,” Psaki added. “They are whether you’re qualified to serve and whether you’re aligned with the values of this administration.”
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