For the second time in recent weeks, a choice for a top Pentagon leadership job by President Donald Trump has withdrawn, as Philip Bilden on Sunday evening gave up his nomination for Secretary of the Navy, unable to get around financial ethics restrictions related to his own personal investments.
“This was a personal decision driven by privacy concerns and significant challenges he faced in separating himself from his business interests,” said Defense Secretary James Mattis in a statement issued by the Pentagon.
Bilden’s decision to drop out mirrored that of Mr. Trump’s original choice for Army Secretary, Vincent Viola, who gave up his nomination because of difficulties unwinding his own personal financial holdings, and how they might ethically impact his post at the Pentagon
“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,” Bilden said in a written statement.
Last weekend, the White House sternly rejected reports from several news organizations that Bilden was going to withdraw from consideration for the job of Navy Secretary.
In reacting to those reports on February 18, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that talk “would be wrong.”
Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Air Force remains on track; ex-Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) was chosen for that position.
But now, the President will need to make a second choice for both Army and Navy Secretary.