- More than 40 current or pending appointees to 14 prestigious federal commissions and boards have endorsed Trump’s election-fraud lies or supported politicians who have, an Insider investigation has found.
- Some appointees appear to have endorsed political violence. One pending member of the president’s sports council said, “We want blood on our hands.”
- The panels include the Holocaust Memorial Council, the Kennedy Center board, and the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition.
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Dozens of political appointees serving on federal boards and commissions publicly supported radical right-wing efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, an Insider investigation found.
More than 40 current or pending appointees to 14 prestigious federal commissions and governing boards have spread former President Donald Trump’s lies about voter fraud, endorsed or condoned the January 6 insurrection, raised the specter of political violence, voted against certifying the election results, or donated generously to politicians who did. The boards include the Holocaust Memorial Council, the Helsinki Commission, the board of trustees for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition.
In some cases, the appointees are members of Congress who voted against certifying the election results, repeated baseless election-fraud claims, and endorsed a “garbage” legal effort by Texas to nullify millions of votes from other states. They still sit on panels meant to promote public service, advance human rights overseas, and support global anti-corruption efforts.
Supporters of President Donald Trump clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6.
Brent Stirton/Getty Images
The continued presence of so many anti-democratic partisans on commissions and boards intended to promote American interests has alarmed some scholars and pro-democracy activists. Experts consulted by Insider said some of the promoters of false election theories — including several whose comments could be interpreted as endorsing violence — may be violating their oaths.
“Anyone who takes an oath to uphold the Constitution has an obligation to protect democracy,” said Austin Evers, an Obama administration appointee who now leads American Oversight, a nonpartisan government-integrity watchdog. “Words have consequences. Democracy is fragile … Anyone who is simultaneously serving as a federal official while engaging in rhetorical arson like this has no business holding their position.”
The 41 appointees Insider identified are a very small subset of the thousands of appointees who serve in government. And while they are all affiliated with the GOP, they represent a fraction of Republican appointees. The overwhelming majority of federal appointees we reviewed, Democratic and Republican, did not publicly promote voter-fraud claims or call for political violence, condone the events of January 6, or give substantial support to politicians who did.
Trump appointed most of the 41 — many after the 2020 election. A handful were appointed by congressional leaders, and a handful serve by virtue of their current office, typically senior congressional leadership.
Several powerful or well-known Trumpworld appointees did not make our list because they did not publicly embrace unfounded election-fraud claims, allude to political violence, or downplay or condone the violence of January 6. Former first lady Melania Trump, an honorary chair of the Kennedy Center board, largely refrained from such public acts, as did Lee Greenwood, the singer and ardently pro-Trump Kennedy Center trustee whose song “God Bless the USA” is one of Trump’s favorite walk-on tunes for his rallies.
The appointments we reviewed generally carried terms of two to five years and were largely uncompensated. Most appointees are required to attend at least one meeting a year, for which the government covers travel expenses. Nearly all commissions that responded to Insider’s inquiries confirmed that their members swear oaths to uphold the Constitution before beginning service.
‘At what point does this get ridiculous?’
There may be no hoax in modern political history more thoroughly, publicly, repeatedly, and officially debunked than the assertion of Trump and many of his supporters that voter fraud sufficient to shift the outcome occurred in the 2020 election.
Though the former president continues to repeat it for appreciative crowds, the “Big Lie,” as it has come to be known, has been delegitimized by rulings from Republican- and Democratic-appointed judges alike, walked back by one of its key legal proponents, examined and rejected by Trump’s own Justice Department, and debunked by state-level officials, including Republicans. Even The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, a bastion of conservatism, has referred to the mess of allegations as “Mr. Trump’s falsehoods about a stolen election.”
The Big Lie’s chief legal proponent, Rudy Giuliani, had his license to practice law in New York suspended for propagating it; a panel of judges found that Giuliani’s “demonstrably false and misleading” statements about election fraud “immediately threatens the public interest.”
Since the Trump campaign and its supporters began filing their lawsuits in November, judges have called their allegations “fantastical,” “not credible,” and “inadmissible hearsay within hearsay.” At one hearing in November, an exasperated judge in Nevada asked Trump’s lawyers, “At what point does this get ridiculous?”
Nevertheless, Trump has continued to focus on the baseless allegations and has reportedly said he expects to be reinstated as president in August.
‘We want blood on our hands’
Trump greets the former NFL running back Herschel Walker at a campaign event aimed at Black Americans on September 25, 2020.
Insider’s review of federal appointees found dozens of people occupying positions of responsibility within the federal bureaucracy while either openly endorsing lies about the election or financially supporting politicians who have done so. Some were serving before the election, and others accepted appointments from Trump after he launched his efforts to undermine the result.
“After reading @SidneyPowell1’s 270 page report, any person that certified Votes for their state when their state may have had voter fraud but they turned a blind eye and did no research and certified anyway, they need to go to JAIL ASAP. Our Country was built on LAW AND ORDER,” the former football star Herschel Walker tweeted on December 27.
Walker has been the chairman of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition since 2018. (Powell herself has since said that “no reasonable person” would take her report as factual.)
“Trojan Horses …I call on @realDonaldTrump to find out who these people are as they do not look like MAGA!” Walker tweeted on January 6 along with photos of insurrectionists in the Capitol. “You have the power right now to see who they really are and to get to the bottom of who stole this election! Prosecute these bad players.”
“Have you noticed were not talking about election fraud and election integrity now? Seems like this was well planned to shut everything down and run the clock out,” Walker tweeted later that day, appearing to suggest the insurrection was actually a conspiracy intended to help Democrats.
Walker did not respond to multiple inquiries made to his businesses.
Joining Walker as appointees to President Joe Biden’s fitness panel are the MMA fighters Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal, who have both promoted Trump’s false voter-fraud claims and alluded to violence.
Colby Covington, a UFC fighter appointed to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, said in March that Trump supporters “want blood on our hands.”
“I know a lot of my right-wing conservative people, they want blood right now. We were cheated out of an election. It was an unfair election with Donald Trump. They cheated. They rigged the system,” Covington, a top-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter, told a radio audience in March as he promoted a fight.
“So we want blood on our hands. So I know a lot of Republicans and right-wing people that want blood. I want to give it to them,” Covington said, apparently referring to his upcoming bout. Covington could not be reached for comment.
Masvidal, who holds the record for the fastest knockout in UFC history, tweeted on November 7: “The media state has declared Joe Biden the President. I wonder when trump gonna drop the hammer to fix the scorecard?”
Masvidal could not be reached for comment. A council representative declined to comment for this story and referred inquiries to the White House. The White House did not respond.
Insider contacted all panels mentioned in this project, shared our findings, and invited them to comment. We incorporated comments from the boards that responded. The others declined to comment or declined to respond altogether.
Jorge Masvidal, a fighter Trump appointed to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, wondered when Trump would “drop the hammer” on Joe Biden’s supporters.
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
‘A failure of democratic ethics’
Of the dozens of boards and commissions Insider scrutinized, perhaps none was so historically and politically sensitive as the Holocaust Memorial Council.
Members of the 55-seat governing board act as trustees to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, built in 1993 to help lead the nation in commemorating the Holocaust and inspire people “to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.” It says it offers exhibitions for the public as well as research facilities and materials for academics to teach “a powerful lesson in the fragility of freedom, the myth of progress, and the need for vigilance in preserving democratic values.”
Several proponents of the Big Lie — all nominated by Trump — have seats on the board of the solemn institution:
- Andrew Giuliani. The son of Trump’s personal lawyer, Giuliani was a Trump White House public liaison. In the weeks before his appointment to the council in December, the lightly credentialed 35-year-old promoted voter-fraud theories on Twitter. In a video in June, he defended his father’s repeated election lies. Giuliani described the New York court’s suspension of his father’s law license as “unbelievable” and “unacceptable” and claimed his father “did everything by the book.”
Giuliani is making a long-shot bid for the New York governorship. Giuliani’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment from the candidate.
- Richard Grenell. Trump’s acting intelligence chief and ambassador to Germany, Grenell tweeted frequently to express voter-fraud concerns after the election. At a rally in Pennsylvania in October, he stood by Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and a senior campaign advisor, as she claimed that dead cats were voting absentee for Biden.
In November, the onetime spymaster flew to Nevada to announce a lawsuit to “stop counting illegal ballots” in the state. When reporters pressed for evidence, Grenell “rushed inside a waiting van” and rode away, The Daily Beast said.
In response to Insider’s request for comment, Grenell claimed in an email without citing evidence that “there was massive fraud in the last election” that the media failed to cover. He then falsely claimed that an Insider reporter was “rumored” to have refused to sign a company honor code promising to “always defend Israel’s right to exist.” There is no such honor code at Insider or at its parent company.
Richard Grenell, a former acting director of national intelligence, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 27.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
- Max Miller. A former Trump aide and deputy campaign manager, Miller is now running for an Ohio congressional seat. “What happened on January 6 was not an insurrection,” Miller told The Washington Times in June. Trump appeared with Miller at a campaign rally in June and used the candidate’s platform to repeat his debunked claims of a rigged election. “This was the scam of the century, and this was the crime of the century,” Trump told the crowd. Miller’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment from the candidate.
“This is a total affront to the culture of the museum, which is about remembering and preserving the historical record. But our historical memory of this election and its contested aftermath is being attacked by these election deniers. That’s crazy,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University whose latest book, “Strongmen,” explores how authoritarians use propaganda, corruption, and violence to stay in power. “Having people who willfully deny the historical record seated on the museum board is a failure of democratic ethics and needs to be addressed.”
A museum spokesperson said: “The Museum does not appoint the members of its governing Council. Fifty-five members are appointed by the president; five by the Senate and five by the House of Representatives.”
‘Let us fight this fight as if it is our last fight on Earth’
Seats on the Kennedy Center’s board of trustees have long been favored handouts to generous and loyal political supporters. The gig comes with few responsibilities, free premium seats for events at the legendary performance hall, and ample opportunity to rub elbows with some of the most powerful people in the world.
Jon Voight urged fans to fight to overthrow Trump’s election defeat “as if it is our last fight on Earth.” He sits on the Kennedy Center’s board of trustees.
The upcoming 44th annual Kennedy Center Honors, scheduled for December 5, will feature honorees Berry Gordy, Joni Mitchell, Lorne Michaels, and Bette Midler.
Insider found that the board includes 16 appointees who have vocally supported Trump’s election fabrications, called for violence in response to the election results, or financially supported politicians who did.
- Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor said flatly on Fox News on the day of the insurrection that “there is evidence” of voter fraud. Huckabee endorsed Republican lawmakers who pledged not to vote to certify the election results and disputed that Trump intended to overturn them. “If the funny business went on — that we have thousands of affidavits indicating, that we have videotape indicating, that you have expert testimony … if you have that and you don’t investigate it, then you leave this cloud over Joe Biden and his election,” Huckabee said on Fox. Huckabee did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
- Pam Bondi. The former Florida attorney general and Trump administration aide made herself a key figure in Trump’s efforts to push the false fraud narrative. “We’ve won Pennsylvania, and we want every vote to be counted in a fair way,” Bondi said three days before Florida was called for Biden. “Here we GO!!!” she tweeted a few days later with a screenshot of a report that Attorney General William Barr had authorized federal prosecutors to pursue allegations of voting irregularities. Bondi did not respond to requests for comment.
- Jon Voight. In a bizarre video posted on Twitter in November, the “Midnight Cowboy” star promoted Trump’s election-fraud lies, compared liberals to Satan, and said the country was facing its “greatest fight since the Civil War.” Voight said: “My fellow Americans, I stand here with all the feelings I do, disgusted with this lie that Biden has been chosen. As if we all don’t know the truth. And when one tries to deceive, we know that one can’t get away with it, there will be a price to pay … Let us fight this fight as if it is our last fight on Earth.” Paraphrasing Muhammad Ali, Voight added, “It’s not over till the last punch you have.” A spokeswoman for Voight told Insider he was not available for comment.
Garth Brooks, Joan Baez, Dick Van Dyke, Midori, and Debbie Allen at the 43rd annual Kennedy Center Honors on May 21 in Washington, DC. Sixteen election deniers sit on the Kennedy Center’s board of trustees.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images
In addition, nearly a dozen right-wing megadonors and their spouses on the Kennedy Center’s board of trustees have generously funded campaigns for candidates who aligned themselves with efforts to discredit the election results and even expressed sympathy with the mob that overran the Capitol.
The congressional hopefuls and election denialists Darin Smith, Lynda Blanchard, and Jane Timken all count financial sponsors among the Kennedy Center’s trustees. The 2020 Senate candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both of whom pledged to vote against certifying the results and made the Big Lie a central component of their campaigns, would also recognize several major supporters.
Seated denialists like Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Reps. Beth Van Duyne of Texas and Claudia Tenney of New York would also be familiar with major donors around the table if they happened to attend a Kennedy Center trustee meeting. (McCarthy actually might — he’s an ex officio member.) Those wealthy associates include:
- Carl Lindner III. A Trump megadonor, Lindner gave $100,000 to the Trump Victory committee in September after Trump refused to say he’d accept the outcome of the election and gave a shout-out to the Proud Boys during a debate. Lindner, the scion and co-CEO of American Financial Group, which his father bought in 1973, also sent $2,900 to Timken’s campaign after Timken pushed false election claims.
- Lynn Friess. With her husband, Friess recently funded campaigns for Darin Smith, a Wyoming congressional candidate, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who continued to advance voter-fraud allegations after the election was certified. They have also generously supported the National Republican Congressional Committee, led by Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, who supported a spurious Supreme Court challenge by some Republicans to disallow millions of votes and opposed a congressional inquiry into the insurrection.
- Marc Stern. The chairman of the $200 billion investment firm TCW Group, Stern sent more than $60,000 to fund McCarthy’s political ambitions in March. “President Trump won this election,” McCarthy told Fox News in November. “So everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet, do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes. We need to unite together.”
McCarthy also embraced the doomed GOP effort to persuade the Supreme Court to toss out millions of votes. Following the insurrection, McCarthy voted against certifying electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. He opposed efforts led by Democrats to investigate the insurrection and tried to place other election deniers on the panel.
Stern has also given nearly $40,000 to the NRCC this year.
Pam DeVos, with her husband, Dan, gave to Loeffler and Perdue. Hannah Buchan, with her husband, Duke, gave to Blanchard and Perdue. Kelcy Warren, with his wife, Amy, gave $410,000 to Trump Victory the day after the election. Heather Washburne, with her husband, Ray, gave to Trump, Tenney, and Van Duyne. Phyllis Washington, with her husband, Dennis, gave $50,000 to a fund backing Loeffler and Perdue. Steve Witkoff gave $41,100 to the same fund, plus $2,800 each to Loeffler and Perdue and $25,000 to the Trump-Graham Majority Fund.
Insider did not receive responses to requests for comment from Lindner, Friess, Stern, DeVos, Buchan, Washburne, Washington, or Witkoff.
A spokesperson for Warren said in an emailed statement: “We do not comment on Mr. Warren’s personal political contributions, but as a point of reference, the Trump Victory Committee is a joint fundraising committee that includes the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the official state Republican parties in 22 states.”
Asked for comment, a Kennedy Center spokesperson said: “For decades, across numerous administrations, we have had a bi-partisan board that works collaboratively and positively to advance the mission of the Kennedy Center. Despite differences in backgrounds and beliefs, they are all united in their support and in coming together to collaborate in the name of the Arts.”
Political donations have become a litmus test for anti-democratic support since dozens of corporations swore off donations to lawmakers who objected to certifying the election results. More than 100 US corporations vowed to halt contributions to objectors or to all congressional campaigns, according to CNN.
Giving cash to election deniers seeking public office isn’t just a matter of bad optics, said Olivia Troye, the director of the Republican Accountability Project and a former Trump administration official. Her organization was founded by disaffected conservatives and seeks to hold accountable Republicans who they believe have damaged American democracy.
“By writing checks, you’re enabling this person to have a platform to further damage our democracy with their actions,” Troye said. “If you took that funding machine away from them, their power would go away. So if you’re donating to these types of people and voices, you are equally part of the problem.”
A man yells inside the Senate chamber on January 6.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
‘Look, you should fight for what you believe in’
Two appointees who had expressed support for the election-fraud claims — one who appeared to sympathize with the Capitol rioters, and one who pledged loyalty to Trump even as he spouted conspiratorial falsehoods — attempted to distance themselves from their remarks after Insider reached them for comment.
Gregg Harper, a former Mississippi representative, is the chairman of the board of the Stennis Center for Public Service, a program Congress created in the 1980s to “promote and strengthen the highest ideals of public service in America.” He was appointed to the board in 2018 by House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Harper was in the House gallery for the election certification on January 6 and for the violence that ensued. He initially seemed to express sympathy for the rioters. Months later, in an interview with Insider, he appeared to change his tune.
“It would be hard to say that people were there on their own had he not done the speech and done that,” Harper told Jackson’s WLBT in January, referring to Trump. “And I understand. Look, you should fight for what you believe in.”
When Insider reached Harper by phone in August and asked him to explain his January statement, he first said he did not recall making it. He later called back later to clarify his position. “Obviously, when I said that you should fight for what you believe in, I was referring, of course, to the Trump rally. I was not referring to that to be a green light to storm the Capitol,” he told Insider.
The Stennis Center declined to comment for this story.
Edward McMullen Jr. was Trump’s 2016 campaign chair for South Carolina and later his ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein. Trump appointed him to the Kennedy Center’s board of trustees in December.
In May, the South Carolina newspaper The State quoted McMullen as saying: “I’ve made it very clear that, you know, if the president decides to run, I am a loyal person. I would support the president.”
When Insider reached him by phone in August, McMullen denied having made the comment. “I’m not involved in that at all. I’m a private citizen. I’ve done no interviews on that matter,” he told Insider.
‘Our faith in elections has been broken’
The list of election deniers and insurrectionist sympathizers in government positions includes prominent political names and little-known but powerful figures. Jackie Gingrich Cushman, the daughter of former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, holds an appointment from Trump to the Adams Memorial Commission, which Congress tasked with developing a plan to memorialize John Adams, the second president.
Two days before Trump announced Cushman’s appointment, she endorsed the doomed legal efforts of L. Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, who were filing suits asking judges to overturn election results based on baseless fraud allegations and outlandish conspiracy theories involving (variously) China, Venezuela, Cuba, secret algorithms, hacked voting machines, bribes, and more.
A Fox News op-ed article that Cushman wrote with her father pointed to Wood’s and Powell’s lawsuits to proclaim that “the foundation of America is faltering and must be restored” and that “our faith in elections has been broken.” Cushman did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Only two of the board’s 12 appointees have been named, and the commission has not yet been formed, a spokesperson for the National Park Service confirmed to Insider. The spokesperson did not offer a comment about Cushman.
Trump is greeted by Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, at CPAC 2020.
‘Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?’
Lesser known but arguably more influential is Mary Vought, who enjoys a seat on the National Council on Disability, which advises Congress and the administration on policies affecting people with disabilities. Vought also runs the Senate Conservatives Fund and Senate Conservatives Action, political groups that have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates who have deployed politically violent rhetoric, supported the Big Lie, voted against certifying the election results, and been accused of helping organize the rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol.
The fund has endorsed and supported Rep. Mo Brooks in his run for a US Senate seat in Alabama. Brooks spoke at and was said to have helped organize the “Stop the Steal” rally. “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” Brooks told the crowd, adding: “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?”
Brooks, who acknowledged wearing body armor while delivering those lines, has since said he was referring to voting, not physical violence.
Vought’s groups have sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hawley and Sen. Ted Cruz, both of whom voted against certifying the election results. Two days after the insurrection, Vought sent a fundraising appeal praising Hawley’s “tremendous courage” to vote against certification and celebrating his willingness to “fight back.” Vought did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
A couple of Trump loyalists and supporters of the Big Lie received seemingly random, even comically inappropriate appointments:
- Dan Scavino, a Trump White House communications vet, landed on the presidential fitness council alongside Herschel Walker and the MMA fighters. Scavino, a former caddie and later manager and vice president of the Trump National Golf Club, is better known for writing Trump tweets than for fitness. After the Capitol siege, Scavino stayed on staff, and when Twitter blocked Trump for inciting violence, Scavino allowed Trump to use his own account to spread more baseless election-fraud allegations and vow to “fight,” even as he promised “an orderly transition” of power. Scavino did not respond to requests for comment.
- Matthew Schlapp, a Trump-supporting lobbyist and the president of the American Conservative Union, received a seat on the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board. Last November in Nevada, Schlapp broadcast unfounded claims that teenagers and dead people had voted in the state. Schlapp has continued to advance debunked voter-fraud claims; as recently as July, he pushed disproved allegations about ballots in Nevada and Georgia. Schlapp did not respond to requests for comment.
The biggest group of federal panelists who embraced the Big Lie are members of Congress who voted against certifying the election results. They include:
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California: ex officio member, Kennedy Center board of trustees
- Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri: ex officio member, Kennedy Center board of trustees
- Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri: ex officio member, Kennedy Center board of trustees
- Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York: US Holocaust Memorial Council
- Rep. David Kustoff of Tennessee: US Holocaust Memorial Council
- Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina: ranking member, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission)
- Rep. Bob Aderholt of Alabama: Helsinki Commission, United States Semiquincentennial Commission
- Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina: Helsinki Commission
- Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri: Congressional-Executive Commission on China
- Rep. Brian Mast of Florida: Congressional-Executive Commission on China
- Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming: Congressional Award board
- Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania: National Council on the Arts
“It’s akin to officeholders who supported secession or encouraged a fight against the Union,” said Erica Newland, a Trump-era Justice Department official who now works for the nonpartisan group Protect Democracy.
None of the lawmakers responded to requests for comment.
Few experts believe that members of Congress could face expulsion or other sanctions for voting to object to certifying election results.
“The law they were voting about — whatever you think of it — it is law, and it does permit people to reject certifications for any reason,” said Gerard Magliocca, the Samuel R. Rosen Professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. “If all they were doing is voting, or explaining their votes, that was a lawful act, even if it does cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election result.”
Still, some governance experts said the appointees’ actions should trigger consequences. “A lot of appointees take an oath to defend the Constitution,” said Karl Frisch, a spokesman for Accountable.US, a nonpartisan watchdog group. “If you violate your oath by supporting an insurrection or pushing ‘the Big Lie,’ you should be held accountable for that. Nobody has a right to serve on these commissions and boards — it’s a privilege.”
While federal law requires appointees to swear oaths of loyalty to the Constitution, it provides no clear mechanism for enforcing consequences if an appointee violates their oath.
In a few cases, bureaucratic inertia appears to be blocking a handful of appointees identified by Insider. Trump’s last-minute appointees to at least two panels aren’t seated, apparently because the Biden White House has not taken steps to establish the boards in the new administration. Insider could not determine whether the holdups in forming the sports council and the education-science board were intentional or whether the new White House simply hasn’t gotten around to them. The White House declined to comment.
How we decided
In assessing whether an appointee should be categorized as a supporter of Trump’s election lies, we used the following criteria:
- We looked for an overt public act of support for either the January 6 insurrection or for Trump’s lies about the election, not just inference or hearsay.
- We viewed continued direct political advocacy on behalf of Trump or continued employment on his political staff during his campaign to undermine the election as such an act.
- To identify donors to politicians who supported Trump’s lies, we looked for public endorsements or substantial donations beyond a routine amount going to politicians who voiced support for election-fraud lies or voted against certifying the results.
- Simply being connected to Trump wasn’t sufficient. The Kennedy Center board of trustees includes Melania Trump, for instance, but she has never voiced substantial support for her husband’s fraud claims or offered public support for him during his campaign to overturn the results.