Viola withdraws as Trump’s Army secretary nominee – Politico

Vincent Viola.

Vincent Viola is the first of Trump’s nominees to withdraw from consideration. | Omar Vega/Invision/AP

The billionaire investor who President Donald Trump nominated to be Army secretary is bowing out after the challenge of separating himself from “the organizations that he has built over the last 35 years have proven insurmountable,” according to a statement provided by an associate late Friday.

Vincent Viola, the founder of electronic trading firm Virtu Financial and owner of the Florida Panthers hockey team, is the first of Trump’s nominees to withdraw from consideration. His decision was first reported by Military Times.

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“I am deeply honored to have been considered for this post, and appreciate the confidence President Trump showed in me,” Viola was quoted in the statement. “I offer my continued support for President Trump and his administration, and look forward to re-doubling my efforts to support the Army and its veterans as a private citizen.”

Viola is a West Point graduate and retired major who served in the 101st Airborne.

His firm Virtu Financial, which is based in Hong Kong and valued at $2.4 billion, went public in 2015. He is personally worth an estimated $1.8 billion, according to Forbes, earning him a slot on its list of 400 wealthiest Americans.

But his assets have made vetting by the Office of Government Ethics especially difficult, according to administration officials. For example, he was negotiating selling a majority interest in Eastern Air Lines, The New York Times reported this week, to alleviate a potential conflict of interest.

Viola is one of several wealthy business people who Trump has tapped for senior positions. Philip Bilden, who built his business career in Hong Kong, has been nominated as Navy secretary.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has expressed frustration with the pace of Trump’s defense nominees this week, saying he’d like to see the civilian heads of the military branches come before his committee for their confirmation hearings “as soon as possible.”

But the panel says it won’t consider nominees until they are cleared with an ethics agreement and financial disclosures from the Office of Government Ethics.

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