WASHINGTON (CN) — With the clock ticking on the president’s time in office, the White House on Friday ousted longtime members of a council advising the Pentagon on its best business practices and replaced them with allies of Donald Trump.
Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller made the overhaul announcement in a written statement, saying that nine members of the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board would be replaced with 11 new appointments.
Two of those new appointments are Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, and David Bossie, a longtime Trump associate who also served on the president’s 2016 campaign as deputy manager.
Bossie is now assisting Trump in his litany of legal battles contesting the results of the 2020 election with unsubstantiated claims of fraud. He is also the president of the conservative advocacy group Citizens United and authored a memoir with Lewandowski called “Let Trump Be Trump” chronicling their time on the campaign trail.
“These individuals have a proven record of achievement within their respective fields and have demonstrated leadership that will serve our Department and our nation well,” Miller said in the statement Friday.
Miller was only appointed to his role on Nov. 9. He replaced Defense Secretary Mark Esper after Trump fired him hot on the heels of the president’s defeat in the 2020 election to Joe Biden. President-elect Biden will be sworn in on Jan. 20.
According to the charter guiding the Defense Business Board’s operations, the body is responsible for advising the Pentagon on defense concerns from a private sector perspective. It is composed of no more than 25 members at a time and is subject to renewal every two years.
Members must have a “proven track record of sound judgment and business acumen in leading or governing large, complex private sector corporations or organizations,” the charter states, and “a wealth of top-level, global business experience in the areas of executive management, corporate governance, audit and finance, human resources, economics and technology or healthcare.”
Lewandowski, a former lobbyist, was charged with battery in Florida in 2016 after Michelle Fields, a reporter from Breitbart, claimed he manhandled her during a press conference. The charge was eventually dropped after prosecutors in Jupiter said there was not enough evidence to support her claims. He left the Trump campaign shortly after.
Lewandowski has faced similar claims before. A couple in New Hampshire claimed he threatened them with a baseball bat over a property dispute.
Bossie is an on-again, off-again Trump administration insider. His relationship with the White House took a temporary turn for the worse when Bossie was accused of using his nonprofit group, the Presidential Coalition, to scam the president’s elderly supporters.
A probe by the Campaign Legal Center in conjunction with news outlet Axios published last May detailed the Presidential Coalition’s spending and found that of the $15 million collected for candidates, only about $425,000 went into that particular fund. The rest went to third-party consultants and to purchase copies of books written by Bossie and Lewandowski.
Politico was first to scoop the Defense Department news Friday, reporting that defense board members were caught unaware of the sudden transition. Michael Bayer, one of the nine members replaced on the board, told Politico that he and others terminated Friday only found out via a form letter email.
Also fired Friday were David Van Slyke, David Walker, David Venlet, Paul Dolan, Scott Dorn, Atul Vashistha, John O’Connor and Arnold Punaro.
In addition to Lewandowski and Bossie, the new members include Henry Dreifus, Robert McMahon, Cory Mills, Bill Bruner, Christopher Shank, Joseph Schmidt, Keary Miller, Allen Weh and Earl Matthews.