The commander of the D.C. National Guard is set to be removed from his position during the middle of GOP President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration at 12:01 p.m.
Army Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz will be in command of the D.C. National Guard and 5,000 other unarmed troops during the day’s proceedings, but when the clock hits 12:01 p.m., his time will be finished.
In an interview with The Washington Post on Friday morning, Schwartz said that, “The timing is extremely unusual.”
“My troops will be on the street,” Schwartz said. “I’ll see them off, but I won’t be able to welcome them back to the armory.”
Schwartz, unlike other National Guard commanders across the states, is appointed directly by the president. As a presidential appointee, he is supposed to submit his formal resignation, which comes into effect 12:01 p.m. on Jan. 20.
President Barack Obama elected to keep Schwartz on board from the George W. Bush administration days. The Trump administration, however, appears to be making a hard break from that tradition, evidenced also by Trump’s separate announcement that all politically appointed ambassadors — without exception — must bow out on Inauguration Day.
It’s unclear why exactly Trump decided not to keep Schwartz, mostly because military sources and transition team sources gave different accounts to The Washington Post. Military officials simply said that the Trump team accepted Schwartz’s resignation. A Trump transition team source, however, gave a little more detail, saying that the transition team wanted to keep Schwartz, but the Army wanted him removed.
Trump’s decision to accept Schwartz’s resignation has already earned the ire of D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.
“It doesn’t make sense to can the general in the middle of an active deployment,” Mendelson said. “He’s been really very good at working with the community, and my impression was that he was good for the Guard.”
As soon as Schwartz steps down, he’ll be replaced by Army Brig. Gen. William J. Walker.
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