White House Pentagon nominee calls for martial law as Trump fires advisory board

Harriet Alexander
·3-min read
Scott O’Grady is welcomed back to the US by Bill Clinton after his F-16 was shot down over Bosnia. O’Grady avoided capture for six days before US marines rescued him (AFP via Getty Images)
Scott O’Grady is welcomed back to the US by Bill Clinton after his F-16 was shot down over Bosnia. O’Grady avoided capture for six days before US marines rescued him (AFP via Getty Images)

Donald Trump's nominee for one of the most senior roles in the Pentagon has called for martial law and described Joe Biden's victory as a "coup", it emerged on Friday, as the White House unceremoniously fired members of the volunteer board advising the defense department on their business interests.

The chair, vice chair and at least two other members of the Defense Business Board were fired by email on Friday.

Michael Bayer, chair of the board, told Politico he was shocked by the move.

"I was very surprised that the White House would, at the eleventh hour, adjust an advisory board that for 19 years has had a record of nonpartisan support with the department," he said.

"This kind of a move really will weigh heavily on people on the future and their willingness to serve on these outside advisory boards if they're going to be subjected to political loyalty tests.

"It's unprecedented. I'm just saddened."

Another dismayed former board member told the site: “You are talking about 15, 20 executives, business leaders, government leaders, who are giving their time to serve the nation and not even a thank you note.

“It’s just about simple gratitude and appreciation for people.”

The Defense Business Board is made up of more than a dozen industry and academic leaders who volunteer to provide independent business advice to Pentagon leadership and are appointed by top Pentagon leaders.

The board has completed reviews of defence agencies and activities, looking into the efficient running of the $700 billion (£502bn) department.

Their removal came after the 9 November firing, by tweet, of the defence secretary, Mark Esper.

Several of his deputies and associates were also fired, or resigned.

Scott O'Grady was nominated by the White House to become an assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs - a key position overseeing operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

His nomination was sent to the Senate on Monday and is a political appointment, so if Mr O'Grady is confirmed, he would only fill the role until the start of the Biden administration on 20 January.

Mr O'Grady, a former fighter pilot and Trump loyalist, repeatedly retweeted tweets that claimed Mr Trump won "in a landslide", and called for martial law.

"I don't know who needs to hear this," he wrote on Twitter, in a series of private tweets seen by CNN.

"But calling for martial law is not a bad idea when there is an attempted coup against the president and this country happening right now."

On 25 November, Mr O'Grady retweeted a tweet that said: "Trump won & Biden & his Comrades will now attempt a coup," next to a photoshopped image of Mr Biden beside Xi Jinping, the president of China.

In a radio interview, he called Barack Obama and military generals "sworn socialists," and advocated that the military justice system should bring back treason charges.

He also retweeted a tweet that called former Defense Secretary James Mattis a "traitor," and on 19 November retweeted a tweet that falsely claimed Hillary Clinton and George Soros were involved in allowing foreign interference in the presidential election.

On 27 November, Mr O'Grady retweeted the false claim that Mr Trump won California, despite the president having lost the state by more than five million votes.

After leaving active military service in 2001, Mr O'Grady obtained a theology degree and launched a speaking and writing career about his time in Bosnia.

He co-chaired the Veterans for Trump campaign effort in 2020.

He is well known for his adherence to conspiracy theories.

In a radio interview from the spring of 2020, unearthed by CNN, Mr O'Grady said "open-source unclassified material" shows that Covid-19 was created out of a lab in China.

There is no evidence for this and the conspiracy has been widely rejected by the scientific community.

In 2019, he also tweeted: "Europe is going to face a serious problem in our lifetime with the growing muslim [sic] populations inside their countries. It's not going to be a pretty outcome in my opinion."

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