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With clean sweep, Biden's Pentagon chief clears out Trump picks

New Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has made a clean sweep of the Pentagon's Trumpified advisory boards.
Image: President-Elect Biden Introduces Nominee For Secretary Of Defense General Lloyd Austin
Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin speaks after being formally nominated to be Secretary of the Department of Defense on Dec. 9, 2020 in Wilmington, Del.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The final weeks of Donald Trump's term were quite busy, and not just because the Republican spent an inordinate amount of time plotting against his own country's democracy. He also made more than a few personnel moves at the Pentagon.

Indeed, in his first big decision after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, the outgoing president fired then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper. As regular readers may recall, in the weeks that followed, Trump proceeded to oust a series of Pentagon officials while appointing unqualified loyalists to series of Defense boards and panels.

It was widely assumed that President Joe Biden's team would show the Trump acolytes the door. Yesterday, new Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin did exactly that, making a clean sweep of the Pentagon's Trumpified advisory boards.

The move affects several hundred members of about 40 advisory boards, including dozens of people who had been named to the posts in the closing days of former President Donald Trump's tenure. Among those who were dismissed are highly partisan figures such as Corey Lewandowski, Trump's 2016 presidential campaign manager; David Bossie, a former Trump deputy campaign manager; Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; and retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata.

It's worth emphasizing that some of the ousted board members predated the Trump era, but that helped justify the new secretary's move: Austin hasn't singled out appointees from the recent president; he's instead dismissed every member of every Pentagon advisory panel.

The Wall Street Journal, which was the first to report on this, noted, "Because of their potential access to classified information, it can take months for someone to get through the security clearance process and formally join a board."

Now, that process has been rendered moot.

The WSJ added, "The advisory boards, some of which date to at least the 1950s, were intended to be bipartisan and offer a diversity of opinion to Pentagon leaders on potential policies." It's far more likely now than it was a month ago that these panels will now be able to serve their intended purpose.