Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Trump’s choice for Navy secretary Philip Bilden withdraws from consideration

President Donald Trump speaks during a working lunch on the federal budget, at the White House in Washington, on Feb. 22, 2017.

DOUG MILLS/NYT

President Donald Trump's choice to be secretary of the Navy, businessman Philip Bilden, said Sunday he was withdrawing from consideration for the post, citing concerns about privacy and separating himself from his business interests.

Bilden's withdrawal raises similar issues to that of Vincent Viola, Trump's nominee for Army secretary who stepped aside earlier this month. Just last week, the Pentagon sought to tamp down reports that Bilden might pull out.

Bilden was an intelligence officer in the Army Reserve from 1986-1996. He relocated to Hong Kong to set up an Asian presence for HarbourVest Partners LLC, a global private equity management firm. Bilden recently retired from HarbourVest Partners after 25 years.

Story continues below advertisement

Analysis: U.S. presidency: It's Donald Trump vs. Everyone Else

Read more: Donald Trump vows military buildup, lashes out at media in CPAC speech

In a statement released Sunday by the Pentagon, Bilden said he determined that he would not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without what he called "undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family's private financial interests."

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement that he would make a recommendation to Trump for a nominee in the coming days.

On Feb. 19, after press reports suggested that Bilden might drop out, the Pentagon issued a statement saying Bilden had assured Mattis he remained committed to serving as Navy secretary if confirmed by the Senate and that Mattis was confident Bilden was "the right leader" to rebuild the Navy and Marine Corps.

Viola cited his inability to successfully navigate the confirmation process and Defence Department rules concerning family businesses. A military veteran and former Airborne Ranger infantry officer, he was also the founder of several businesses, including the electronic trading firm Virtu Financial. He also owns the National Hockey League's Florida Panthers and is a past chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.