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Trump’s Second Nominee for Secretary of the Army Drops Out | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US president Donald Trump. Picture: REUTERS

Washington – For the second time in just over three months, President Donald Trump administration lost its candidate to serve as secretary of the army after he withdrew from consideration following criticism for his previous bigoted statements against Muslims and US citizens of Latin origins.

Republican Senator Mark Green, who was nominated for the senior civilian post within the Department of Defense in April, issued a statement on Friday explaining why he withdrew from consideration.

“Tragically, my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain,” he said in the statement to ABC News.

In addition to the two choices for secretary of the Army, Philip Bilden, Trump’s first nominee to be secretary of the Navy, withdrew in February for reasons related to his family’s financial holdings.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement earlier this week saying that Green shouldn’t have been nominated in the first place.

“A man who was the lead sponsor of legislation to make it easier for businesses to discriminate against…supports constricting access to legal contraception; and makes deeply troubling comments about Muslims is the wrong choice to lead America’s Army,” added Schumer.

US administration is struggling to fill a number of politically appointed positions within the Pentagon, including deputy secretary, navy and others.

Pentagon official cited extreme political polarization in Congress as the main obstacle where Republicans and Democrats refuse to exchange initiative, while others stated that strict financial rules have also proven problematic for a number of prospective candidates, according to AFP.

Meanwhile, US Defense Department is finalizing a lease on a privately owned apartment in New York’s Trump Tower for the White House Military Office to use for supporting President Donald Trump without providing any benefit to Trump or his organization, according to a Pentagon letter seen by Reuters.

Pentagon’s Military Office safeguards the president and the device that contains the top secret launch codes the president needs to order a nuclear attack known as the “football”. It also provides him secure communications wherever he is.

The White House, Secret Service, and Defense Department had no comment on whether similar arrangements have been made at other properties Trump visits such as – Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida and the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where Trump is spending this weekend.

Officials declined to reveal the cost of the lease or identify the owners of the apartment.

In a letter to Representative Jackie Speier, a Democrat on the House Armed Services and intelligence committees, Defense Department official James MacStravic, said the apartment is “privately owned and … lease negotiations have been with the owner’s representatives only.”

MacStravic, who said any acquisition of leased space with “an annual rental in excess of $1 million must first be approved by my office”. He added that “he approved this action after consulting with the White House Military Office and other officials.”

MacStravic’s letter, dated March 3, added: “We are not aware of any means through which the President would personally benefit from a Government lease of this space.”

The letter explained that the White House Military Office requested approval to lease space in the Trump Tower for personnel assigned to support the President when at his private residence.

The letter said such arrangements are “typical of support provided” by the Military Office to previous US presidents and vice presidents at their private residences.

A White House spokeswoman said the White House had no information on the leasing issue, while the Defense Department and US Secret Service declined to comment, according to Reuters.

When the Pentagon in February first acknowledged that it was seeking to lease space in Trump Tower, some Democrats questioned whether such a move would produce a financial benefit for Trump or not.

Speier wrote to Defense Secretary James Mattis shortly after the Trump Tower issue became public in February expressing his concern that the President of the United States would look as though he financially benefits from this deal at the expense of the Department of Defense taxpayers.

Defense Department said it will be negotiating only with representatives of the owners of a private apartment in order to avoid such concerns.