Kellyanne Conway, Presidential Norms Protector, Has Entered The Chat
Donald Trump's goons want to talk about NORMS?
After four years where they flouted every Washington convention, beginning with firing the FBI Director four years into a 10-year term, defied Congress at every turn, installed partisan hacks in non-partisan jobs, allowed unqualified toadies to serve as acting Cabinet secretaries for years on end, and capped it all off by holding the Republican National Convention at the White House ... now they want to talk about NORMS?
Kellyanne Conway, Queen of the Hatch Act Violation, wants to talk about NORMS?
This week the White House sent letters demanding the resignation of 18 Trump appointees to various military advisory boards, including Conway, Sean Spicer, and former Office of Management and Budget head Russ Vought, all of whom were jammed in there in December 2020, as a giant "fuck you" to the incoming Biden administration.
Other appointees include Hope Hicks and Sarah Huckabee Sanders to the board overseeing Fulbright Scholarships; Lee Greenwood, who wrote "God Bless the USA," to the Kennedy Center Board; Andrew Giuliani to the board of the Holocaust Memorial Museum; and David Legates, a Trump official who says more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is actually good for the planet, to the committee that chooses National Medal of Science winners.
It is a NORM that the presidential appointees actually have something to contribute to the advisory bodies to which they are appointed. Nevertheless Conway, in a typically snarky Tweet, lamented that it was a "break from presidential norms" to boot her off the Board of Visitors to the United States Air Force Academy.
"President Biden, I'm not resigning, but you should," she tweeted, adding a screenshot of a letter on "THE HONORABLE KELLYANNE CONWAY" letterhead in which she accused the president of behaving in a manner that "seems petty and political, if not personal" in attempt to "distract from a news cycle that has you mired in multiple self-inflicted crises and plummeting poll numbers."
A hit dog will holler.
Russ Vought used his position at OMB to deny congressionally allocated funds to Ukraine as part of Trump's effort to extort the country into announcing a fake investigation of Joe Biden; screw Puerto Rico out of recovery money; reclassify great chunks of the civil service as political appointees so they could be fired for partisan purpose; and burrow political appointees into career positions in the executive branch on the way out the door. And yet this guy, whose day job is running an astroturf group dedicated to making America white again — oh, sorry, fighting Critical Race Theory — has the temerity to be pissed off that he's getting tossed off the Board of Visitors to the Naval Academy.
"No. It's a three-year term," Vought tweeted. Which was marginally less embarrassing than the shitfit Sean Spicer threw on his Newsmax show last night, during which he threatened to join a lawsuit suing the administration for depriving him of his rights.
Sean Spicer had a meltdown tonight after Jen Psaki suggested that both he and Kellyanne Conway might not be qualifi… https://t.co/lzCytNyZ8I— Ron Filipkowski (@Ron Filipkowski) 1631140439.0
Sean's "service to the nation" included a stint in the Naval Reserve as a public affairs officer, a hazardous deployment to the White House where he lied about crowd size (and literally everything else), and an appearance on Dancing With the Stars.
DO NOT QUESTION HIS SERVICE!
Here on Planet Earth, Spicer, Vought, Conway, and the rest of the shameless hacks may be on thin legal ground with their threats to remain until their terms of appointment expire. As constitutional law Professor Steve Vladeck points out, if the appointing statute does not contain removal protections, then the appointee serves at the president's pleasure. Here's the relevant statute pertaining to the Naval Academy Board of Visitors — it contains no such protections.
And, BTW, the Trump administration went all the way to the Supreme Court to ensure that it could fire the congressionally confirmed head of the Consumer Finance and Protection Bureau, even though the statute specified that she could only be removed for "inefficiency, neglect, or malfeasance." So lotsa luck with that lawsuit asserting your due process rights to an honorary position with zero statutory protections.
There's also the minor matter that Trump himself fired Obama's political appointees less than a year ago, at the very end of his term, to make room for such luminaries as Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie on the Pentagon's Defense Business Board, a move which was only thwarted by heroic foot dragging of their paperwork until after January 20. Similarly, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor were pushed off the Defense Policy Board in December to make room for Trump's political appointees. (Yes, yes, we know that Kissinger is Henry Kissinger, but still.)
Over at the White House, Jen Psaki fielded questions about the firings with aplomb, asserting the president's right to "nominees and people serving on these boards who are qualified to serve on them and who are aligned with your values."
"I will let others evaluate whether they think Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer and others were qualified or not political to serve on these boards. But the president's qualification requirements are not your party registration," she continued. "They are whether you're qualified to serve and whether you're aligned with the values of this administration."
Yes, that. All of that.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.