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Criticism Drives Trump's Nominee for Army Secretary to Bow Out

  • VOA News

FILE - State Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, sits at his desk in the Senate chamber in Nashville, Tennessee, April 17, 2013.

U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee to be Army secretary has withdrawn his name from consideration due to complaints about comments he has made disparaging minority groups, including gays and transgender people.

The White House confirmed Friday that Mark Green was no longer being considered for the top civilian leadership position in the U.S. Army.

Green, a state senator in Tennessee, said in a statement that opposition to his appointment was based on "false and misleading attacks."

The former Army physician was criticized as an unsuitable leader for the nation's largest military service based on a widely seen video of him speaking last September in Tennessee to a group affiliated with the Tea Party, a group of fiscally and socially conservative Republicans. In his remarks, Green said people who are transgender - those born as members of one biological sex who identify themselves socially as the other gender - suffer from a "disease."

Green also assailed what he contended is the "indoctrination of Islam" in some American public schools, and said his "life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized" by his opponents.

Critics: 'Green unfit to lead Army'

Secretary of the Army is not a Cabinet-level post, but reports to the secretary of defense, but the appointment is made by the president and must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The post of Army secretary also is different from that of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking uniformed position in the U.S. military.

Gay activist groups, the Human Rights Campaign, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and a number of Democratic senators have spoken out against Green.

Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a combat veteran in Iraq who lost her legs and partial use of her right arm in the military, said that despite his own military service, including three tours of duty in the Middle East, Green has since shown himself to be unfit to lead the Army.

There was no formal reaction to Green's withdrawal by the Pentagon, but earlier in the day a spokesman declined to say whether Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, still supported the president's nominee, The Washington Post reported.

Green's withdrawal is 'good news' - Schumer

The Tennessee physician was President Trump's second nominee for Army secretary. His original choice, Wall Street billionaire Vincent Viola, because of what he said were difficulties in complying with Pentagon rules forbidding potential conflicts of interest involving officeholders' financial interests. Following that episode, Green was nominated on April 7.

Trump's original choice to be Navy secretary, Philip Bilden, withdrew from consideration in February, for similar reasons, but no replacement has yet been named.

The Democratic Party leader in the U.S. Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, welcomed Green's decision to withdraw on Friday, saying this was "good news for all Americans, especially those who were personally vilified by his disparaging comments directed toward the LGBTQ community, Muslim community, Latino community and more."

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