“While I am disappointed, I understand and respect his decision, and know that he will continue to support our nation in other ways,” Mattis said in a statement.
In his own statement made public by the Pentagon, Bilden said he concluded that he would not be able to fulfill U.S. ethics rules “without undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family’s private financial interests.”
Bilden, who has been a donor to Republican causes, until recently was a senior official at the equity firm HarbourVest Partners.
The announcement comes just a week after the Pentagon issued a statement saying that Bilden, despite reports that he would pull out of the running for the job, was headed for a confirmation vote. In that Feb. 19 statement, Mattis called the former intelligence officer in the Army Reserve “the right leader” for the high-profile Navy job. White House press secretary Sean Spicer also tweeted that the reports were “100 percent not true.”
Bilden is the Trump administration’s second service secretary nominee to bow out over business matters. Earlier this month, billionaire businessman and veteran Vincent Viola withdrew from consideration to become Army secretary.
Other people nominated or considered for senior jobs in the Trump administration have pulled themselves from the running.
Mattis said he will recommend another Navy leader “in coming days.” Another person who has been eyed for the job is former congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.).