President Donald Trump’s choice for Army secretary has withdrawn his
nomination in the face of growing criticism over his remarks about Muslims and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Mark Green, a Republican state senator from Tennessee, said in a statement on Friday “false and misleading attacks” had turned his nomination into a distraction.
“Tragically, my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterised and attacked by a few on the other side for political gain,” Green said, expressing “deep regret”.
Green is the second Trump nominee for Army secretary to withdraw.
The move to step aside comes after a video began circulating of a remarks Green gave in September to a tea party group in Chattanooga.
Green, who is opposed to gay marriage, described being transgender as a disease.
He also urged that a stand be taken against “the indoctrination of Islam” in public schools” and referred to the “Muslim horde” that invaded Constantinople hundreds of years ago.
Several Senate Democrats, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, declared they would oppose Green’s nomination over what they called intolerant and disturbing views.
Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a combat veteran who lost her legs and partial use of her right arm during the Iraq war, said in a statement Friday Green wasn’t fit to lead the service.
Schumer welcomed Green’s move to step aside.
“Mark Green’s decision to withdraw his name from consideration as Army secretary is good news for all Americans, especially those who were personally vilified by his disparaging comments directed toward the LGBTQ community, Muslim community, Latino community and more,” he said in a statement.
Also on Friday, a coalition of 41 organisations led by the Human Rights Campaign called on the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee to reject Green’s nomination.
The letter to Senator John McCain of Arizona and Jack Reed of Rhode Island said Green’s “shameful rhetoric” is at odds with the Army’s core values and will affect recruiting.
Green’s withdrawal underscores the challenges Trump has faced in filling two of the service secretary posts.
The president’s first pick to be the Army’s top civilian, Vincent Viola, dropped out in early February because of financial entanglements and about three weeks later Philip B. Bilden, the Navy secretary nominee, withdrew for similar reasons.
The GOP-led Senate is scheduled to vote Monday on the nomination of Heather Wilson to be Air Force secretary.