Pentagon Fires Trump Appointees—Like Lewandowski, Gingrich—From Advisory Board

Pentagon Fires Trump Appointees—Like Lewandowski, Gingrich—From Advisory Board


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is purging all of the Pentagon’s advisory boards, he announced this week, firing dozens of unpaid advisors and derailing former President Donald Trump’s controversial attempts late last year to give board seats to his political allies.

Biden Defense Secretary Nominee Lloyd Austin Testifies At Senate Hearing

Lloyd Austin testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his conformation hearing to … [+] be Secretary of Defense on Jan. 19.

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Key Facts

Austin is asking every member of the Department of Defense’s more than 40 advisory committees—which offer outside advice on topics like policy, technology and business—to step down in the next two weeks, Press Secretary John Kirby said Tuesday.

DOD is launching a review of all advisory boards that weren’t set up by Congress, and Austin could order some boards to be reorganized or eliminated altogether, Kirby said (Austin’s decision was first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday).

Kirby says this sweeping action was driven partly by the Trump administration’s decision to abruptly fire scores of board members late last year and replace them with political loyalists like former campaign chief Corey Lewandowski, Republican operative David Bossie, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and retired Army officer Anthony Tata.

Last week, the Pentagon prevented some of those Trump appointees from being seated on advisory boards by halting their onboarding process.

Crucial Quote

“The frenetic activity that occurred to the composition of so many boards in just the period of November to January deeply concerned the Secretary,” Kirby said.

Key Background

The Pentagon’s advisory boards are normally nonpartisan and fairly unglamorous postings, composed primarily of unpaid business leaders and other outside experts who meet periodically to give advice on DOD operations. However, Trump drew scrutiny to these committees last December, when his acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller pushed out more than a dozen members of the Defense Policy Board and Defense Business Board—including former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger—to make room for allies like Lewandowski and Gingrich. The changes came amid a wave of firings and resignations at the Pentagon’s highest levels after Trump’s election loss last year.


In Trump’s final days in office, he filled dozens of unpaid and obscure federal positions with his allies, a fairly common move for outgoing presidents. Conservative youth activist Charlie Kirk was named to a committee focusing on “patriotic education,” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s son joined the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, and former White House advisor Kellyanne Conway was appointed to a U.S. Air Force Academy advisory board.

Surprising Fact

Steve Blank, a tech entrepreneur who served on the Defense Business Board, publicly resigned from his post in December after more than half of his fellow board members were forced out, which he said “put the nation’s safety and security at risk.”

Further Reading

Pentagon Clears Out Advisory Boards to Oust Last-Minute Trump Picks (Wall Street Journal)

Gingrich among Trump loyalists named to Pentagon advisory board (Pentagon)

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