A member of the Defense Business Board has resigned in protest at the Trump White House’s recent purge of the board’s membership, replacing members with arch Trump loyalists and campaign staffers.
“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, wrote: “My service to the Department of Defense was a service to the country, not to a party. I hereby tender my resignation.”
Last week, the Pentagon confirmed that nine members of the Defense Business Board had been purged, replaced with Trump partisans including Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.
Trump has jettisoned much of the Pentagon’s civilian leadership in recent weeks, replacing officials with a slew of political loyalists in a wave of disruption as his administration winds to a close. Since firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper by tweet November 9, the President has ousted at least three other top officials and replaced them with perceived loyalists and targeted two advisory boards.
The Trump loyalists are replacing former military officers with decades of experience in the defense industry.
The top defense officials overseeing policy, intelligence and the task force charged with overseeing the fight against ISIS have all been pushed out as part of the recent purge.
Traditionally, the Pentagon advisory boards are nonpartisan and their membership will carry over into successive presidential administrations.
Late last month, the administration purged a policy advisory board, removing grandees such as Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger.
William Cohen, who served as defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, called the President’s purge of the Pentagon advisory board an “obscene gesture.”
“[H]e’s purging all of the experts and it’s really sort of an obscene gesture to the Biden supporters and to at least the majority of the American people,” said Cohen in an interview Saturday evening with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
Cohen also noted that the individuals President Donald Trump is installing “don’t really know much about world affairs or defense affairs.”
Board members are not paid but do receive reimbursement for travel and other expenses.