May 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden purges Trump nominees from public architecture committee

Biden sits in a chair

Biden at FEMA headquarters on May 24. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

U.S. Commission of Fine Arts chair Justin Shubow told NPR that he and three other commissioners on the independent federal agency have been asked to resign by the Biden administration — or be fired.

Why it matters: Shubow, who was appointed to the commission by former President Trump in 2018, said no commissioner has been removed from the agency in its 110-year history.

Shubow provided NPR with a copy of the letter he received from Cathy Russell, director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.

  • "Should we not receive your resignation, your position with the Commission will be terminated effective 6:00 pm tonight," the letter, dated for May 24th, reportedly reads.
  • "I was shocked and dismayed to learn that three of my fellow commissioners, along with myself, have been asked to resign or be terminated by the President," he said in a statement. "Any such removal would set a terrible precedent."
  • Shubow reportedly refused to resign.

Biden has chosen Peter Cook, Hazel Ruth Edwards, Justin Garrett Moore, and Billie Tsien to replace the former commissioners, a White House spokesperson confirmed in an email to Axios. The positions do not require Senate confirmation.

  • Cook is design principal at HGA Architects and American Institute of Architects member. Edwards chairs Howard University's Department of Architecture in the College of Engineering and Architecture. Tsien is a partner with Todd Williams Billie Tsien Architects, the firm designing the Obama Presidential Library.
  • "The four individuals who were asked to resign from this commission were strong proponents of classical architecture and therefore do not align with President Biden’s values," the White House spokesperson said.
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