The first big decision Donald Trump made after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election was a personnel move: the Republican fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
What we didn't know at the time was that it was the first step of many. In the weeks that followed, Trump parted ways with the Pentagon's chief of staff, policy chief, undersecretary for intelligence, and even the Defense official overseeing the military's Defeat ISIS Task Force. In nearly every instance, officials were replaced with highly controversial Trump acolytes -- each of whom will be promptly shown the door after Joe Biden's inauguration.
On Friday afternoon -- when else? -- the outgoing president went a little further. Politico reported:
The White House removed nine members of the Pentagon's Defense Business Board on Friday and installed people loyal to President Donald Trump in their place, including presidential allies Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.... Members of the board received a brief email from Joshua Whitehouse, the White House liaison to the Department of Defense, that simply said, "if you are receiving this e-mail, your membership on the Defense Business Board has expired or is coming to an end."
The Pentagon's Defense Business Board's focuses primarily on promoting efficiencies and cutting waste within the department. There are written criteria for membership on the board, and by any fair measure, political operatives such as Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie don't quite qualify.
Then again, most of the White House appointees to key Pentagon posts in recent weeks don't qualify, and Team Trump clearly doesn't care.
It was against this backdrop that one of the remaining members of the Pentagon's Defense Business Board announced yesterday that he's resigning in protest.
"The abrupt termination of more than half of the Defense Business Board and their replacement with political partisans has now put the nation's safety and security at risk," Steve Blank wrote in his letter of resignation to acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.
Blank, a longtime entrepreneur, added, "My service to the Department of Defense was a service to the country, not to a party. I hereby tender my resignation."
Blank sat down yesterday with CNN's Erin Burnett, explaining, "I thought one option was to hunker down under the desk and wait for January. Then I thought I could not look at myself in the mirror every morning if I did that. People need to do what's true to them. To me, it's service to country, not to party."