Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green has withdrawn his nomination to be secretary of the Army. Opposition was building against Green among Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee over statements Green made that critics called insensitive toward Muslims.
The second person nominated by President Trump to serve as secretary of the Army announced today he was withdrawing from the process.
Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green, a former Army special operations officer, cited "false and misleading attacks against me" in a statement that said his nomination had become a "distraction" and so he felt he should not take it forward.
"Tragically, my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain," he said.
Opposition was building against Green among Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which would need to confirm him, over statements that critics called insensitive toward Muslims. One example involved a political meeting in which Green called for limiting the teaching of history of Islam in schools.
Opponents also cited Green's support for Tennessee state legislation viewed as discriminatory against LGBT people.
"At a time when our military and our nation face growing threats from foreign enemies, our armed forces cannot afford to turn away any capable and qualified service member," said Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth.
At the same time, support among Republican leaders on the committee appeared mild and, critically, a Defense Department spokesman declined on Friday to say whether Defense Secretary James Mattis was behind Green.
He is the second nominee to withdraw. Trump's first choice, Florida billionaire Vincent Viola, withdrew in February because he said he felt it would be too difficult to disentangle himself from his many business interests.
Trump's choice to become Navy secretary, financier Philip Bilden, also took himself out of the running because of his business relationships. Both jobs remain vacant along with many other politically appointed Pentagon leadership positions.
Trump's nominee to become Air Force secretary, Heather Wilson, has been cleared by the Armed Services Committee and her nomination could come before the full Senate for a vote next week.
The civilian service secretaries run the three military departments — of the Army, Air Force and Navy, which includes the Marine Corps — that fall under Mattis' leadership within the Department of Defense.