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Sean Spicer's denials left looking thin as Trump's choice for top Navy job steps aside

Philip Bilden will not be becoming secretary of the US Navy.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied reports that Bilden was withdrawing.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied reports that Bilden was withdrawing.
Image: Pablo Martinez Monsivais

LESS THAN TWO weeks after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Donald Trump’s choice for Navy Secretary was “100% committed” to the role, the nominee has withdrawn himself from the process.

Philip Bilden’s decision to step aside from consideration before he was officially confirmed represented a further blow to the US President’s efforts to finalise the tops posts in his administration.

Bilden is a prominent businessman and private equity investor and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said last night that his decision was because of concerns he had about separating from his business interests.

“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, adding that he would soon suggest a new nominee.

While I am disappointed, I understand and respect his decision, and know that he will continue to support our nation in other ways.

Reports that Bilden was having cold feet first emerged about 10 days ago when CBS News reporter Major Garrett tweeted the news.

Spicer quickly followed it with a tweet of his own claiming that the story was false:

“Those people would be wrong. Just spoke with him and he is 100% commited (sic) to being the next SECNAV pending Senate confirm,” Spicer said.

SPICEY Source: Twitter/PressSec

The secretary of the Navy serves as the chief executive officer for both the Navy and the Marine Corps.

Two other Trump nominees who have who struggled to disentangle from their business lives have also withdrawn from consideration.

US Army secretary nominee Vincent Viola withdrew over concerns about his ability to separate from his large business holdings and labour secretary nominee Andrew Puzder after he faced intense scrutiny for his business record.

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.

- With reporting by © – AFP 2017

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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