May 7, 2017

Trump’s Homophobic Sec of Army Mark Green Withdraws

As Rachel noted on the show the other day, Green has quite a colorful record of strange beliefs, including arguing that being transgender is a “disease,” promoting creationism, criticizing public health-care programs for interfering with Christian evangelism, and raising some very strange concerns about Victoria’s Secret catalogs.
As rumors swirled this week that Green was simply too radical to be confirmed, he insisted that the chatter was baseless and that his meetings with senators were going smoothly.
That turned out to be untrue. Green is now out and Trump will need to look for yet another person to serve as Army Secretary.

More background (NYT and Boston Globe):

Vincent Viola, a billionaire Wall Street trader and President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Army, abruptly withdrew his name for the post Friday night after concluding it would be too difficult to untangle himself from his business ties, two government officials said.

Viola is an owner of the Florida Panthers hockey club and a majority shareholder in Virtu Financial and Eastern Air Lines, among other business interests. This week The New York Times reported Viola had been negotiating to swap his stake in Eastern Air Lines for a stake in Swift Air, an airline with government contracts.   

If his nomination had continued, he would have faced certain scrutiny for potentially becoming a government official who benefits from federal contracts. The Army secretary post requires Senate confirmation.

The Trump administration did not announce his withdrawal, which was first reported Friday by The Military Times, but a senior administration official and a Pentagon official separately confirmed his decision, which the White House accepted Friday. Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Viola is a 1977 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and he last served in the Army Reserves at the rank of major. He remained connected to the military through donations to West Point, including to the academy’s Combating Terrorism Center.

A former Pentagon official and close friend said Viola was devastated over having to withdraw from what he described as a lifelong dream job. But the former official said Viola felt he was unable to sell his interest in some of his holdings because doing so could have destroyed those companies. His decision followed weeks of negotiations between his lawyers and the government as they sought to find a solution.

Ultimately, they could not.

Viola has a net worth of almost $1.8 billion and is a co-founder of Virtu.  
In an episode unrelated to the finances of Viola, it was recently revealed that he was involved in an altercation in August: He was accused of punching a concessions worker at a racehorse auction in Saratoga Springs, New York. No charges were brought against him.


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