Since losing the 2020 election, Trump has systematically ousted top Defense Department officials and replaced them with people more favorable to him. That removal operation even extended to the typically nonpartisan Pentagon Defense Business Board on Friday, where the White House fired nine members and installed Trump allies in their place.
On Friday, nine members of the board received a "form letter" telling them their "membership on the Defense Business Board has expired or is coming to an end, its now-ousted chair Michael Bayer tells Politico. Bayer said he was "surprised" the White House would make this kind of "11th-hour move" regarding an advisory board with a "record of nonpartisan support." "This kind of a move really will weigh heavily on people on the future and their willingness to serve on these outside advisory boards if they're going to be subjected to political loyalty tests," Bayer added.
In the members' place, the White House installed a collection of loyalists, including Trump's 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Also installed was David Bossie who, along with Lewandowski, was among Trump allies who've been challenging the 2020 election results.
Trump also recently nominated Scott O'Grady, another loyalist, to a top Pentagon spot. O'Grady, along with freshly pardoned former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, shared a wild petition on Twitter that compels Trump to "declare limited martial law to temporarily suspend the Constitution" and hold a new presidential election.
After the election, Trump removed former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the top official overseeing the Defeat ISIS Task Force, and members of the Defense Policy Board, including former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright. Kathryn Krawczyk
On Tuesday, a Pentagon spokesperson announced Christopher Maier, who led the Defense Department's Defeat ISIS Task Force, had resigned. But as three people briefed on the matter tell The New York Times, Maier's departure was more like a firing.
Maier had been leading the military effort to fight ISIS since the beginning of Trump's presidency. It was an "important but low-profile job" that required both navigating "Washington's counterterrorism bureaucracy" and working on the ground in combat zones, the Times writes. But on Monday morning, a White House appointee told Maier "the United States had won that war and that his office had been disbanded," the Times reports.
Maier's reported ouster comes not long after Trump fired a slew of Pentagon officials, including former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and replaced them with his loyalists. The Pentagon's statement said Maier's office would be folded into two other bureaus headed by Trump appointees recently promoted amid the purge.
Brett McGurk, the former U.S. envoy for the ISIS fight who resigned over Trump's withdrawal of troops from Syria, criticized Maier's removal. "Chris is a nonpartisan professional and carries years of institutional knowledge on an exceedingly complex set of issues," McGurk told the Times, saying "it really makes no sense to force out someone like that 50 days before a transition to a new administration." Kathryn Krawczyk