The officials asked to resign include prominent former Trump officials like former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, former senior counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster. They were appointed to the advisory boards of the Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and West Point respectively.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday afternoon confirmed the request had been made.
“The President’s objective is what any president’s objective is — 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. And so yes, that was an ask that was made,” Psaki told reporters at a White House briefing.
Psaki added: “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, but the President’s qualification requirements are not your party registration, they are whether you’re qualified to serve and whether you’re aligned with the values of this administration.”
Other appointees who have been asked to resign are Michael Wynne, who was appointed to the board of the Air Force Academy; retired Gen. John Keane, Meaghan Mobbs, and David Urban appointed to the board of West Point; and John Coale and Russell Vought, Trump’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget, appointed to the Naval Academy’s board.
The military academy advisory boards, according to the Air Force Academy website, were established to oversee the “morale, discipline, social climate, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters” relating to the nation’s military academies. The board for each academy meets several times a year and its members provide independent advice and recommendations to the President.
The members typically serve out three-year terms. At least one Trump appointee, Vought, has signaled he will not resign.
When reached for comment by CNN, Spicer said he intends to respond to the resignation demand on his show. Wynne told CNN “it was an honor to be on the board,” and said he was disappointed he wasn’t asked to remain on the board.
“Very disappointed to see the Biden administration not honor a previous president’s appointment to the board of visitors, which has been the tradition for years,” Keane told CNN.
In a statement, Mobbs said she would not be resigning.
“Frankly, I find this whole act unconscionable and not all in the spirit by which this Administration promised to govern. President Biden ran on a supposed platform of unity but his actions speak directly to the contrary. Apparently, unity is only for those who conform,” Mobbs said. “When I joined the Board under the Trump Administration, there were holdovers from the Obama Administration. They were not terminated but instead served alongside Trump appointees. This mix of perspective, experience, and belief systems ensured there was diversity – a value the Democratic party purports to hold above all else.”
In response to CNN, Urban said Mobbs’ statement reflected his views.
“Your decision is disappointing but understandable given the need to distract from a news cycle that has you mired in multiple self-inflicted crises and plummeting poll numbers,” Conway wrote.
CNN has also reached out to Macgregor, Stirrup, Coale and McMaster for comment.