National Security

EXCLUSIVE: Joseph Schmitz Under Consideration For Secretary Of The Navy Should Bilden Drop Out

Courtesy Jake Greenberg/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Former Pentagon Inspector General Joseph Schmitz is “in consideration” to be nominated as the next secretary of the navy should President Donald Trump’s current pick drop out, a source told The Daily Caller News Foundation Saturday.

“Joe Schmitz is in strong consideration to be nominated if Bilden backs out for [Secretary of the Navy],” an advisor on national security appointments within the Trump transition team told TheDCNF. The source spoke to TheDCNF on the condition of anonymity.

Philip Bilden, a former Army Reserve officer, was reportedly going to withdraw his nomination, according to two sources speaking to CBS News. The Pentagon later issued a statement denying the claims.

“There have been press reports‎ suggesting that Philip Bilden may drop out from his nomination to be Secretary of the Navy.  Secretary Mattis spoke with Mr. Bilden today,” said Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis in a statement. “Mr. Bilden remains fully committed to serving as Secretary of the Navy pending Senate confirmation, and Secretary Mattis remains fully committed to helping him. Secretary Mattis remains confident that Mr. Bilden is the right leader to rebuild the readiness of our Navy and Marine Corps.”

Bilden has been a somewhat controversial figure given his lack of Navy experience. Schmitz is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and spent more than two decades in the Navy and the Navy reserve. He was nominated by former President George W. Bush to serve as the Pentagon’s inspector general June 18, 2001.

Sen. Charles Grassley accused Schmitz of numerous allegations during his tenure. Schmitz eventually resigned from his post in 2005 after allegations that he intervened in an FBI investigation of former Pentagon official Jack Shaw’s improper contracting practices during the Iraq War. In fact, it was Schmitz who insisted that the FBI investigate Shaw, and the timing of his resignation had nothing to do with any allegations. Shaw was fired from his post in 2004, but the FBI ultimately did not decide to charge him. The President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency cleared Schmitz of any wrongdoing in 2006.

Schmitz joined the Prince Group, the holding company for private security contractor Blackwater Worldwide (now known as Academi), after leaving the Department of Defense. He also advised the Trump campaign on foreign policy.

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