Trump’s pick to run Army drops out of con­sid­er­a­tion

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY DAN LAMOTHE dan.lamothe@wash­post.com Philip Rucker con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Vin­cent Vi­ola, the bil­lion­aire U.S. vet­eran se­lected by Pres­i­dent Trump to be­come Army sec­re­tary, with­drew from con­sid­er­a­tion for the job Fri­day night, two ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said.

Vi­ola, one of Trump’s ear­li­est nom­i­nees, ac­cepted Trump’s of­fer to run his for­mer ser­vice more than a month be­fore the pres­i­den­tial in­au­gu­ra­tion. He made his for­tune af­ter found­ing Virtu Fi­nan­cial, a high­fre­quency trad­ing firm, and went on to pur­chase the Florida Pan­thers of the Na­tional Hockey League. That back­ground proved com­pli­cated to un­tan­gle to meet the Pen­tagon’s con­flict-ofin­ter­est re­quire­ments.

The news was first re­ported by the Mil­i­tary Times news­pa­per chain, which said Vi­ola came to be­lieve that he would not be able to make it through the con­fir­ma­tion process.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate the con­fi­dence Pres­i­dent Trump showed in me,” Vi­ola said in a state­ment re­leased to Mil­i­tary Times. “I of­fer my con­tin­ued sup­port for Pres­i­dent Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion, and look for­ward to re­dou­bling my ef­forts to sup­port the Army and its veter­ans as pri­vate cit­i­zens.”

De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis is dis­ap­pointed but “un­der­stands and re­spects Mr. Vi­ola’s de­ci­sion,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pen­tagon spokesman. Mat­tis is “con­fi­dent that Mr. Vi­ola will re­main a stal­wart sup­porter of Amer­ica’s sol­diers” and will rec­om­mend an­other nom­i­nee to Trump soon, Davis said.

Vi­ola had spent weeks meet­ing with mem­bers of the Sen­ate to help se­cure his con­fir­ma­tion for the job.

He with­drew his name af­ter the New York Times re­ported that he was pre­par­ing to sell his ma­jor­ity in­ter­est in Eastern Air Lines for a stake in Swift Air, a smaller char­ter air­line that has mil­lions in U.S. gov­ern­ment sub­con­tracts that could be tough to track.

A spokesman for Vi­ola told the Times that he had shared all of his busi­ness deal­ings with Trump’s tran­si­tion team and was “ac­tively pur­su­ing full com­pli­ance with all re­quire­ments nec­es­sary for his con­fir­ma­tion.”

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