Trump navy secretary nominee withdraws citing disruption to financial interests
Philip Bilden announces his decision only days after White House said he was 100% committed to the role
Donald Trumps choice to be secretary of the navy has withdrawn from consideration for the post, citing concerns about privacy and separating himself from his business interests.
The nominee, Philip Bilden, was an intelligence officer in the army reserve from 1986 to 1996. He relocated to Hong Kong to set up an Asian presence for HarbourVest Partners, a global private equity management firm. He recently retired from HarbourVest Partners after 25 years.
Bilden is the second Trump nominee for a post overseeing the military to withdraw before confirmation.
Earlier this month, Vincent Viola, a West Point graduate and former airborne officer, withdrew from consideration to be secretary of the army. The founder of several businesses, including the electronic trading firm Virtu Financial, he also owns the National Hockey Leagues Florida Panthers and is a past chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Viola cited his inability to successfully navigate the confirmation process and defense department rules concerning family businesses. The post remains unfilled.
Reports of Bildens withdrawal had been circulating for days but were denied by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, who said he was 100% committed to the role.
In a statement on Sunday, the defense secretary, Jim Mattis, said Bilden had informed him of the decision and that he would make a recommendation for a new nominee in the coming days.
This was a personal decision driven by privacy concerns and significant challenges he faced in separating himself from his business interests, Mattis said.
In his own statement, Bilden said: I informed Secretary of Defense Mattis with regret that I respectfully withdraw from consideration as nominee for the 76th secretary of the navy.
He had determined, he said, that he would not be able to satisfy Office of Government Ethics requirements without what he called undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my familys private financial interests.