At today’s White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to say if Donald Trump will appoint a new Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, after firing all its members over the holidays.
Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson brought up the subject with Sanders, who told him only that the administration is “looking at the different options, and we’ll keep you posted.”
Trump fired the 16 remaining members of the council December 28 via a FedEx letter, giving no explanation. They had been invited to reapply the day before. Six members had resigned in June, protesting the administration’s lack of action regarding the disease, including the failure to appoint a new director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.
Gabriel Maldonado, one of the members who was fired, speculated that the dismissals were due to “ideological and philosophical differences” and noted that while it’s typical for new presidents to bring on their own appointees, the timing in this case was suspect.
“It is common for appointees to be terminated and for folks to kind of want their own people in,” he told the Blade in December. “I think where the discrepancy comes in is why a year later, number 1? Two, many of us, our terms were over earlier this year and we were sworn back in, and three were stayed on nearly four months after an executive order was signed continuing the council.” Now the council’s continued existence seems open to question.
GLAAD tweeted video of the exchange between Johnson and Sanders, along with its response to the administration’s inaction. Watch below.