President Donald Trump has dispatched two former campaign aides to work with Voice of America, a government-funded news outlet that broadcasts U.S. News outside of the country, Politico reported Monday evening.
Trump sent his former New Hampshire state director Matthew Ciepielowski and former Wisconsin communications director Matthew Schuck to temporarily work with senior management at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees Voice of America and other broadcasters, according to Politico. There, the two aides will work “to ensure an open, transparent and seamless transition of the BBG to the Trump Administration,” per an email from BBG CEO John Lansing obtained by Politico.
The move follows legislation signed by former President Obama last week granting the president more authority over Voice of America. The defense funding bill included a provision to dissolve the Broadcasting Board of Governors and consolidate control of Voice of America and other broadcasters under a CEO appointed by the president, as Politico reported last week. However, the status of the BBG is unclear because when Obama signed the defense authorization bill, he included a statement saying that disbanding the board would be unconstitutional, according to Politico.
Trump’s decision to dispatch aides to the Broadcasting Board of Governors also comes after Voice of America came under fire for tweets about White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s Saturday press conference during which he made false claims about the size of inauguration crowds.
The outlet initially published tweets quoting Spicer’s claims about crowd size without any context, prompting swift backlash. Voice of America then deleted one of the tweets and ran a story fact-checking Spicer’s claims.
Voice of America director Amanda Bennett told Politico that she has not been influence by the Trump administration.
“I know that everyone is looking to say that we’re being manipulated by the Trump administration, we’re absolutely not,” she said.
Bennett also said that the Trump aides will not be involved in decisions about content produced by Voice of America.
“I met with them, we gave them a briefing. We’re going to be showing them around,” she told Politico. “If people are concerned, a lot of people have been through transitions before and this is standard procedure. We gave them the briefing book.”