Philip Bilden withdraws nomination as US navy secretary

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Philip Bilden has withdrawn his nomination as secretary of the US navy, the Pentagon said, the latest in a series of nominees to remove their names from consideration to serve under President Donald Trump.

"This was a personal decision driven by privacy concerns and significant challenges he faced in separating himself from his business interests," Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement on Sunday (Feb 26), adding that he would soon suggest a new nominee.

"While I am disappointed, I understand and respect his decision, and know that he will continue to support our nation in other ways."

Concerns over the ability of Bilden, a prominent businessman and private equity investor, to separate from his vast holdings, many of which are in Hong Kong, clouded his nomination, according to reports.

The secretary of the navy serves as the chief executive officer for both the navy and the marine corps.

Bilden’s move came on the heels of similar decisions by US army secretary nominee Vincent Viola over concerns about his ability to separate from his large business holdings, and labour secretary nominee Andrew Puzder, who faced intense scrutiny for his business record and controversies over his personal life.

The posts require Senate confirmation.

And earlier this month, Michael Flynn resigned from the high-profile post of national security adviser as he faced accusations of lying to White House colleagues about his contacts with Russian officials.