President Donald Trump's pick for the US secretary of the navy withdrew his nomination on Sunday (26 February) over potential "disruption" to his financial assets. Philip Bilden is the second armed services secretary nomination, and third top-level Trump pick, to withdraw their nomination for a position in the current administration.
In a statement, Bilden said he had informed the Secretary of Defence, James Mattis. "I fully support the President's agenda and the Secretary's leadership to modernise and rebuild our Navy and Marine Corps," Bilden said. "I will continue to support their efforts outside of the Department of the Navy.
"However, 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 is the second armed forces secretary to withdraw after Vincent Viola, the billionaire owner of the Florida Panthers, withdrew his nomination for army secretary over similar issues regarding conflicts of interest and his personal business interests.
The withdrawal also looks bad for Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, who had vociferously denied reports a week earlier that Bilden was likely to withdraw. Responding to a tweet from a CBS correspondent that said two people had informed him of the situation, Spicer said: "Those people would be wrong. Just spoke with him and he is 100% committed to being the next SECNAV pending Senate confirm."
It's not the first time that the credibility of the press secretary has come into question. His debut outing in front of the White House press corps saw him angrily giving journalists false information about the size of the crowd at Trump's inauguration ceremony.