In a sweeping move this week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin blocked hundreds of members from serving on various Pentagon advisory boards – including numerous nominees who were appointed by former President Trump, according to a report.
The move came after the process for approving Trump’s nominees to the boards was halted last week, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“Advisory boards have and will continue to provide an important role in shaping public policy within [the Department of Defense],” Austin wrote to Pentagon leaders. “That said, our stewardship responsibilities require that we continually assess to ensure each advisory committee provides appropriate value today.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. (Associated Press)
Among those blocked from taking seats on Pentagon boards were Corey Lewandowski, who served as a Trump campaign manager in 2016, and David Bossie, a former Trump deputy campaign manager, the Journal reported.
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich also was affected, Bloomberg News reported.
The action taken to eliminate Trump’s potential influence on the Pentagon boards, which takes effect Feb. 16, mirrored a smaller-scale move in January, when Biden administration officials quickly purged allies of President Trump from the Voice of America and the parent agency that oversees the news outlet.
Another Trump ally quickly jettisoned was Peter Robb, general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, who was forced out just hours after Biden took office Jan. 20.
Having their nominations approved could have resulted in Lewandowski, Bossie, Gingrich and other Trump nominees gaining access to classified government information, the report noted.
The board members are usually unpaid but often provide access to key officials, Bloomberg reported.
The advisory boards, including some that date to the 1950s, were intended to be bipartisan so the military could benefit from a range of policy ideas, according to the Journal.
Those affected by Austin’s directive include boards on Arlington National Cemetery, military families with special needs, the defense industrial base and other topics, the report said.
Before President Trump left office, his acting defense secretary, Christopher Miller, took action similar to Austin’s, removing such Pentagon advisers as former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and former U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., the Journal reported.
Austin plans to announce new appointees for the boards in the coming weeks, according to the report.