Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered all Pentagon advisory board members who were appointed by former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller to resign by Feb. 16, The Associated Press reports.
In the waning days of the Trump administration, Miller replaced longtime members of the boards with people loyal to former President Donald Trump, including onetime Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, ex-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata.
Board members are not employees of the Pentagon, but they do typically have security clearances, Reuters reports. There are dozens of defense policy, health, science, and business advisory boards, and in a memo released Tuesday, Austin wrote that he has directed "the immediate suspension" of committee operations until a review into their purpose is finished. Officials told AP Austin wants to see if any of the boards have overlapping jurisdictions and if some can be modified as a cost-saving measure.
In one of his final actions, Miller appointed Tata to the Defense Policy Board on Jan. 19. Tata is a former Fox News commentator who made anti-Muslim remarks and called former President Barack Obama a "terrorist leader." A Defense Department official told Reuters there is "no question" that Austin was "deeply concerned with the pace and the extent of recent changes to membership. It gave him pause to consider the broad scope and purpose of these boards."