In a drastic move this week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin barred hundreds of members from serving on various Pentagon advisory boards – including many candidates nominated by former President Trump, according to a report.
The move came after the approval process for Trump’s board candidates was halted last week, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“Advisory councils have played and will continue to play an important role in shaping public policy [the Department of Defense]Austin wrote to Pentagon leaders. “That said, our stewardship responsibilities require that we continually evaluate to ensure that each advisory board delivers appropriate value today.
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Among those barred from serving on Pentagon boards were Corey Lewandowski, who served as Trump’s campaign manager in 2016, and David Bossie, Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, the Journal reported.
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich has also been affected, Bloomberg News reported.
The move to eliminate Trump’s potential influence on Pentagon boards, which takes effect February 16, reflected a smaller-scale move in January, when officials in the Biden administration quickly purged President Trump’s allies of Voice of America and the parent agency that oversees the media.
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Another quickly dumped Trump ally was Peter Robb, general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, who was kicked out just hours after Biden took office on January 20.
Approval of their candidacies could have given Lewandowski, Bossie, Gingrich and other Trump candidates access to classified government information, the report notes.
Board members are typically unpaid but often provide access to key officials, Bloomberg reported.
The advisory committees, some of which date from the 1950s, were supposed to be bipartisan so that the military could benefit from a range of political ideas, according to the Journal.
Those affected by the Austin directive include the boards of directors of Arlington National Cemetery, military families with special needs, the defense industrial base and others, according to the report.
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Before President Trump stepped down, his acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller took action similar to Austin’s, removing those Pentagon advisers as former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., And former American Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., Reported the Journal.
Austin plans to announce new board appointments in the coming weeks, according to the report.