In a sharp turn of events, President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name Philip Bilden, a private equity investment firm executive with no military or government experience, to be his first secretary of the Navy. The appointment would be the latest sign that Trump wants wealthy businessmen rather than military, policy or political leaders to run the military service agencies.
Bilden has now “moved to the front of the pack and is expected to be named as early as next week,” one transition official, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about internal deliberations, told me. A second transition official confirmed that Bilden is now the likely choice, although nothing is final until announced. For months until recently, former Republican congressman Randy Forbes was widely expected to be named Navy secretary. Forbes had visited Trump Tower multiple times and was approved by top Trump transition officials.
But over the past couple of weeks, Bilden has emerged as Trump’s choice. His appointment would follow the appointment of another wealthy businessman, Vincent Viola, to be secretary of the Army. Trump’s defense secretary nominee, retired Gen. James N. Mattis, was furious about the Viola appointment, mostly because he wasn’t in the loop. But transition sources told me Mattis has signed off on Bilden.
Remember when people spoke of the plutocracy in the new gilded age and it was kinda-sorta-maybe hyperbolic?
Those were the days my friend.
. . . I guess Operation Valkyrie will have to wait:
In a bizarre move, Donald Trump has demanded that the commanding officer of the Washington, D.C. National Guard resign from his post in the middle of the Inauguration ceremony, even though the general will be in the middle of helping oversee the event’s security, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz will be removed from his post at 12:01 p.m. on Inauguration Day, just after Trump is sworn in but before the Inaugural parade begins, according to a memo obtained by the Washington Post.
Schwartz has helped plan the security for Inauguration weekend, and he will be charged with overseeing the D.C. National Guard as well as an additional 5,000 troops sent in for the weekend. But he will have to hand over commend to an interim officer in the middle of Inauguration Day.
“The timing is extremely unusual,” Schwartz told the Washington Post on Friday.
“My troops will be on the street,” he added. “I’ll see them off but I won’t be able to welcome them back to the armory.”
Schwartz told the Post that he was not informed why he must step down abruptly on Inauguration Day.
“I’m a soldier,” he said. “I’m a presidential appointee, therefore the president has the power to remove me.”
Seriously this isn’t going to end well.