Leo Shane III, Military Times–
Having now lost two of his three picks to become the military’s next service secretaries, it appears increasingly likely that President Donald Trump won’t have his top team in place at the Pentagon before summer. As a result, several related nominations could be caught in limbo, unable to move ahead until these more visible vacancies are filled.
On Sunday, Trump’s pick for Navy secretary, Philip Bilden, withdrew from the confirmation process just a month after his nomination — and just one week after both the White House and the Pentagon sought to discredit reports indicating the businessman and former Army intelligence officer was planning to step aside. Bilden, who as secretary would have overseen the Navy and the Marine Corps, joins Vincent Viola, the president’s choice for Army secretary, who dropped out in early February. Both men said they faced difficulty extracting from business conflicts.
Trump’s selection for Air Force secretary is former Congresswoman Heather Wilson, and her nomination process appears to be proceeding unimpeded. Nevertheless, Trump’s broader predicament once more raises questions about his own financial entanglements and the administration’s ability to navigate the federal government’s complex conflict-of-interest rules. While for the Pentagon, it underscores that the usually tumultuous transition from one commander in chief to another is proving more challenging than in the past. By some estimates, it could take until May before any new service secretary nominees get through the Senate confirmation process.
“Even if the White House has a fully vetted and cleared candidate