White House Denies Report That Navy Secretary Nominee Could Withdraw

The White House on Saturday denied a report that its pick to become Secretary of the Navy was on the verge of withdrawing his nomination.

CBS News reported Saturday, citing two unnamed sources close to the situation, that Philip Bilden was likely to withdraw his name from nomination as Navy Secretary.

But shortly after CBS News’ Major Garrett first tweeted the news, White House press secretary Sean Spicer called it “wrong” and said Bilden would become Navy Secretary pending the Senate’s confirmation.

Bilden, a financier and former Army reservist with little direct experience in the Navy — aside from his service on the Naval Academy board and donations to the U.S. Naval Institute, CBS noted — has reportedly found it difficult to divorce himself from his financial interests.

Were Bilden to withdraw his nomination, it would add to an already growing list of vacancies in Trump’s national security infrastructure. Trump is reportedly interviewing potential replacements for ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn over the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

The network noted another Trump nominee whose situation echoed Bilden’s: Vincent Viola, a businessman and owner of the Florida Panthers NHL team who withdrew his nomination to be Army Secretary amid difficulties separating himself from his business ties.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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