Vincent Viola, the billionaire U.S. veteran selected by President Trump for Army secretary, withdrew from consideration for the job Friday night, two administration officials said.
Viola, one of Trump’s earliest nominees, accepted Trump’s offer to run his former service more than a month before the presidential inauguration. He made his fortune after founding Virtu Financial, a high-frequency trading firm, and went on to purchase the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League. That background proved complicated to untangle to meet the Pentagon’s conflict-of-interest requirements.
The news was first reported by the Military Times newspaper chain, which said Viola came to believe that he would not be able to make it through the confirmation process.
“I appreciate the confidence President Trump showed in me,” Viola said in a statement released to Military Times. “I offer my continued support for President Trump and his administration, and look forward to redoubling my efforts to support the Army and its veterans as private citizens.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is disappointed, but “understands and respects Mr. Viola’s decision,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. Mattis is “confident that Mr. Viola will remain a stalwart supporter of America’s soldiers” and will recommend another nominee to Trump soon, Davis said.
Viola had spent weeks meeting with members of the Senate to help secure his confirmation for the job. He withdrew his name after the New York Times reported that he was preparing to sell his majority interest in Eastern Air Lines for a stake in Swift Air, a smaller charter airline that has millions in U.S. government subcontracts that could be tough to track.
A spokesman for Viola told the Times that he had shared all of his business dealings with Trump’s transition team and was “actively pursuing full compliance with all requirements necessary for his confirmation.”
Philip Rucker contributed to this report.