Deadlock: Mattis Vs. White House On Pentagon Nominees by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., Breaking Defense
Chronic conflict between Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the Trump White House has hobbled the nomination process for top Pentagon posts, a source familiar with the Trump personnel team tells Breaking Defense. In several cases, the source said, the Trump team recommended nominees with extensive experience and bipartisan respect — Rep. Randy Forbes, Sen. Jim Talent — only to have Mattis shoot them down. In others, Mattis picked outsider candidates — Philip Bilden, Mark Green — who later withdrew.
After more than 100 days in office, Mattis remains the only Trump appointee in place at the Pentagon, left without the usual support team of deputy, under, and assistant secretaries. It’s a lack that House Armed Services chairman Mac Thornberry has repeatedly and publicly lamented.
The problem isn’t just a slow rate of nominations: An extraordinary three nominees for service secretaries have withdrawn their names from consideration. Two billionaires — Bilden for Navy secretary and Vincent Viola for Army secretary — withdrew after being formally nominated, citing their unwillingness to divest themselves of assets to avoid possible legal or ethical entanglements…