Trump’s pick for US Navy secretary withdraws
WASHINGTONU.S. President Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of the Navy withdrew from consideration on Feb. 26, the second time a Trump nominee to lead one of the armed services bowed out because of government conflict-of-interest rules.
Trump last month nominated Philip Bilden, a private equity executive and former military intelligence officer, to lead the Navy, which the president has pledged he will expand.
In a statement on Feb. 26, Bilden said that “after an extensive review process, I have determined that I will not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family’s private financial interests.”
The development leaves Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis without nominees to head both the Navy and Army.
Vincent Viola, whom the president had picked to be secretary of the Army, withdrew earlier this month.
In a statement, Mattis said he was disappointed but understood Bilden’s decision.
“This was a personal decision driven by privacy concerns and significant challenges he faced in separating himself from his business interests,” Mattis said in a statement.
“While I am disappointed, I understand and respect his decision, and know that he will continue to support our nation in other ways.”
Concerns over the ability of Bilden, a prominent businessman and private equity investor, to separate from his vast holdings, many of which are in Hong Kong, clouded his nomination, according to reports.
“In the coming days I will make a recommendation to President Trump for a leader who can guide our Navy and Marine Corps team as we execute the president’s vision to rebuild our military,” he said.
Earlier this month, Michael Flynn resigned from the high-profile post of national security advisor as he faced accusations of lying to White House colleagues about his contacts with Russian officials.