On Sunday night (in the midst of Oscars madness), Donald Trump’s choice for Navy Secretary withdrew his name from consideration. According to Reuters, Philip Bilden, who is a former military intelligence officer, removed his name from the hat while citing a conflict of interest.
Trump’s cabinet has experienced some growing pains. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned due to his connections to Russia, and Army Secretary pick Vincent Viola also dropped out over a conflict of interest. Bilden, who had served as a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army Reserves, indicated that he had privacy concerns. In addition, Bilden was also reluctant to separate himself from his businesses. CNN reports that he’s co-founder of a private equity investment management firm, HarbourVest Partners LLC, which manages assets of over $42 billion. In a statement, Bilden said he was not able to fulfill the requirements required by the Office of Government Ethics:
“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.”
Bilden’s withdrawal isn’t entirely unexpected. However, when CBS News’ Major Garrett previously reported (in early February) that Bilden was going to drop out, this was denied by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Now, Bilden is officially taking his name out of the running, and it’s anyone’s guess what Trump shall do in response.