US & Canada

Trump's Army Secretary nominee Mark Green withdraws

Tennessee State Senator Mark Green Image copyright Tennessee General Assembly

President Donald Trump's pick for Army Secretary has withdrawn his nomination amid backlash over his past controversial remarks.

Mark Green said his nomination had become a distraction due to "false and misleading attacks" against him.

The president's second pick for the post has outraged Democrats and some Republicans after his comments about the LGBT community were revealed.

The Tennessee state senator said last year "transgender is a disease".

"If you poll the psychiatrists, they're going to tell you that transgender is a disease," he told a Tea Party group last September in Chattanooga.

Three years earlier, Mr Green criticised former President Barack Obama for supporting what he described as "transvestites in uniform".

"Tragically, my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterised and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain," the senator said in a statement.

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"While these false attacks have no bearing on the needs of the Army or my qualifications to serve, I believe it is critical to give the president the ability to move forward with his vision to restore our military to its rightful place in the world."

Mr Green, who served as an Army flight surgeon, drew criticism from gay-rights advocacy groups including the American Military Partner Association.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth says Mr Green "made the right decision" to withdraw his nomination

He sponsored legislation that would allow mental health practitioners to refuse to treat LGBT patients and supported a bill that would have forced transgender students to use toilets that matched the sex listed on their birth certificate.

He also faced criticisms from the Muslim Advocates and the Council on American-Islamic Relations for comments he made that both groups considered discriminatory against those who follow the Islamic faith.

US Senator Tammy Duckworth, a combat veteran and Illinois Democrat, tweeted after the announcement that while she respects his service, "he is not fit to lead the Army & made the right decision" to withdraw.

Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he found some of Mr Green's comments "very concerning".

But 11 Republican lawmakers signed a letter supporting Mr Green's "long record of distinguished accomplishments in the defence of the nation".

Mr Trump's previous nominee for the position, billionaire Vincent Viola, withdrew his nomination in February, saying he could not divest himself from his business interests.

Mr Green, who was re-elected for a second term in November, had earlier announced a Republican run for governor of Tennessee.

He dropped his bid once he was nominated for Army Secretary on 7 April.

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