Former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) Vincent Viola withdrew from the nomination to Army Secretary, as President Trump appointed him.
Defense Secretary James Mattis expressed being disappointed but claimed to understand the circumstances that led Viola to make the decision.
It was reported that Vincent Viola would not be able to pass the restrictions imposed by the Defense Department concerning his business affairs.
A businessman to lead the Army
Vincent Viola is the founder of Virtu Financial, a stock trading firm, and he is also the owner of Florida Panthers, a National Hockey League team. He graduated from West Point on 1977 and rose to the rank of major in the Army Reserve. Viola commented that he was honored for the nomination, but that he would instead continue supporting the president and his administration through different methods.
Apparently, Viola, who has an estimated net worth of $1.8 billion, was intending on divesting from his assets since early December to prepare himself for the position. He tried transferring the ownership of the Florida Panthers to a member of his family, and that he would act similarly for his other financial responsibilities.
Viola was also preparing to sell his majority interest in Eastern Air Lines for a stake in Swift Air, a private airline that has extensive ties with the government, as reported by the New York Times. Swift has contracts worth a yearly $15 million with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement branches of the government, mainly earned through the deportation of illegal immigrants. Being in such a position, he could push administrative policies in any way that fits him best.
The result was that the Pentagon’s requirements were too strict and the arrangements could not fit within the framework.
Current nominees for the other branches of the military are Philip Bilden for Navy Secretary and Heather Wilson for Air Force Secretary, Neither position has been confirmed, and this is also true for several other civilian military posts that Trump has not paid mind to since being sworn in as president.
How Trump, the outsider, deals with U.S. international affairs
The next week, Republicans are expecting to vote to approve Jeff Sessions for attorney general, Betsy DeVos, for education secretary Steve Mnuchin for treasury secretary, and Tom Price for health and human services secretary. There’s also Mick Mulvaney for Budget Director and Scott Pruitt for Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, who were approved on Thursday in Congress and are now awaiting confirmation in the Senate.
Democrats have fought hard with their vote to pose resistance and delay the GOP’s plans, but the Republican majority appears nonchalant and ready to take advantage of the stage as it is presented.
On the other hand, Republican Senator for Arizona John McCain has taken the role of Trump’s leading conservative antagonist. Senator McCain has criticized the President on many of his decisions, among which lies how he handled the talks with the Australian Prime Minister and the immigration ban.
“Look, I have done what I have done right for this country under Republican and Democrat presidents. I will continue to do so. This is not a departure from the way I’ve conducted myself in the United States Senate,” stated McCain to CNN after reminding that he opposed Reagan sending Marines to Afghanistan.
McCain remembered how Australia fought alongside the U.S. in the Vietnam War and labeled Trump’s handling of the alliance as “an unnecessary and frankly harmful open dispute.”
He also criticized how President Trump dealt with the military operation in Yemen, which led to the first death of a U.S. soldier during his administration.
According to CNN, the Yemen operation was staged to collect “as much intelligence on the terror group as possible” for performing future strikes and raids, referring to al-Qaeda, and to the prevention of subsequent terrorist attacks. President Donald Trump approved the raid during dinner shortly after being sworn in, although the mission had been planned months ago, even being briefed to Barack Obama.
Apparently, the mission was delayed because the Navy SEALs required for a moonless night to infiltrate on al-Qaeda’s headquarters, located in Yemen.
The mission took place with the support of drones and the intelligence of other countries. As the operational group was approaching, al-Qaeda fighters detected them, resulting in Chief Petty Officer William Owens being dead and three other SEALs wounded. The fight escalated, and the U.S. troops were forced to call down an airstrike against the building, which is thought to have caused civilian casualties, as reported by CNN.
The U.S. Central Command released a statement revealing that civilian casualties occurred due to aerial gunfire used by U.S. troops fired to take down the enemy, which “included armed women firing from prepared fighting positions.”
14 al-Qaeda fighters were neutralized in the skirmish, not including civilian casualties, among which it was likely that there were children. Later, Yemeni officials announced that an 8-year-old girl, daughter of a U.S.-born cleric and al-Qaeda leader, was one of the victims.
“Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has a horrifying history of hiding women and children within militant operating areas and terrorist camps, and continuously shows a callous disregard for innocent lives,” stated U.S. Col. John J. Thomas on behalf of the U.S. Central Command.
Source: Military Times