Being the president of the United States has all sorts of perks: nice house, fancy jet plane, personalized M&Ms, and the ability to dole out all sorts of favors for your pals, just because you're in a generous giving mood. And surely that's what was happening with former President Donald Trump when he named more than a dozen of his friends, confidants, and enablers to the boards of this country's illustrious military schools during his waning days in office. Why else would he appoint some of his most dedicated minions — people like longtime adviser and failed stand up comedian Kellyanne Conway and his first press secretary, the shouty Sean Spicer — to cushy positions at fabled institutions like West Point and the Naval Academy?
Well, whatever his reasons, nearly 20 of Trump's military academy appointees are now going to have to find somewhere else to pad their CVs, after President Biden ignominiously booted them from their respective roles molding the future of America's armed forces.
In letters sent Wednesday from White House Office of Presidential Personnel Director Cathy Russell, 18 recently named members of the Boards of Visitors to the country's Air Force and Naval Academies, as well as West Point, were given until 6 p.m. ET that evening to resign from their posts or otherwise be fired. Beyond Conway and Spicer, those given the boot included Trump's former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Russ Vought, the former director of Trump's Office of Management and Budget.
Shockingly, many of those given the choice between immediate forced retirement or simply getting fired outright were none too thrilled with Biden's move.
Perennial attention hog Spicer used the occasion to drum up an audience for his eponymous Newsmax show, where he threatened legal action against Biden, calling the White House's ultimatum "unprecedented."
Perhaps most hilariously, Conway bemoaned Biden's "break from presidential norms," which she deemed "petty and personal." Because, if anyone would know from petty and personal breaks from those oh-so-precious presidential norms, it's one of the main animating forces of the Trump White House, right? In a lengthy response to Biden, Conway ended her missive with a particularly Trumpian declaration that "I'm not resigning, but you should."
In response, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned Conway that "[w]hen you're fired, don't let the fascist victim complex hit you on the way out."
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Biden's house-cleaning effort, telling the White House press corps that "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."
"The president's qualification requirements are not your party registration," she continued. "They are whether you're qualified to serve and whether you are aligned with the values of this administration."
It's unclear how many — if any — Trump appointees voluntarily left their posts before Wednesday's deadline. What is obvious, though, is that Biden is at least aware of the lingering malignancy inherent in allowing people nominated by a uniquely unqualified demagogue to remain in positions of power and prestige. But with other Trump appointees still doing their best to disrupt the Biden administration's priorities, the question now becomes: Was this the extent of the White House's purge, or just the opening salvo?