U.S. President Donald Trump fired the rest of the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS earlier this week.
The council, called PACHA for short, was set up by Bill Clinton and is supposed to provide advice and direction on policy and other aspects of AIDS prevention.
According to a statement from the council’s executive director, the group members each received a letter earlier this week with the news. B. Kaye Hayes said previous presidents have made similar moves.
“Changing the makeup of federal advisory committee members is a common occurrence during administration changes,” Hayes said in a statement, according to CNN.
She also noted that changing advisory committee members is a common thing for a president to do.
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Former committee member Scott A. Schoettes confirmed the news on Twitter.
“Remaining HIV/AIDS council members booted by @realDonaldTrump. No respect for their service. Dangerous that Trump and Co. (Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed,” Schoettes wrote, adding the hashtags “#WeObject” and “#Resist.”
Council member Gabriel Maldonado told the Guardian the firing felt like “retribution.”
He also said he was worried about reports like the one saying there were banned words in the CDC like transgender and diversity — saying there might be policy changes coming.
“It’s unclear exactly what is happening but it seems to be a foreshadowing of what they are thinking on policy,” he told the Guardian.
The firing came six months after six council members resigned. At the time, Schoettes penned an op-ed in Newsweek saying Trump didn’t take the fight against HIV/AIDS seriously.
“The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and — most concerning — pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease,” he wrote.
Trump is expected to appoint another PACHA in the future.