Just hours after a federal judge gutted his unconstitutional Muslim ban, there’s more bad news tonight for Donald Trump. One of his key nominees, who turns out to have billions of dollars in overseas financial conflicts, has abruptly withdrawn himself from consideration – in what could set off a domino effect of similar withdrawals of Trump nominees.
The nominee to drop out tonight is Vincent Viola, who was nominated for Secretary of the Army, and who is best known as the owner of the Florida Panthers hockey team — an odd pick for a military leadership position to begin with. But as Politico and the Military Times his fortune is tied up in Virtu Financial, a multibillion dollar company which is based out of Hong Kong, creating a surreal financial conflict of interest in a foreign state that is nominally a part of China. Viola is citing his inability to sufficiently divest himself from his various business conflicts of interest as his reason for bowing out.
This now raises the question of whether Donald Trump’s various other nominees who have financial conflicts of interest may also feel pressured to bow out based on the precedent which Mr. Viola just set. Senate Democrats can now ask Trump’s Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Pudzer, for instance, why he feels it’s appropriate to take a government leadership position which will allow him to help dictate how low of a wage he can legally pay his employees at his company Carl’s Jr, considering that Vincent Viola no longer considers himself an appropriate nominee due to his own financial conflicts. And there are numerous other financial conflicts up and down Trump’s nominee roster.
In the short term there is another more striking conflict of interest. Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Navy, Philip Bilden, also built his financial empire in Hong Kong — raising the question of why Trump is trying to stack the U.S. military leadership with businessmen from China.