Despite the false claims President Trump has made shirking the blame onto Democrats for why so many positions have yet to be filled — he is clearly feeling the pressure. New information has come forward, identifying a new selection by Trump for the position of Secretary of the Army: Mark Esper.
For those unfamiliar with Esper, he is a Raytheon lobbyist executive and a former aide to Senators Chuck Hagel and Bill Frist. Previously, President Trump nominated Tennessee State Senator Mark Green and Vincent Viola — both of whom withdrew their applications. It has been reported that the White House will be announcing this nomination formally in the coming week.
Vincent Viola withdrew his nomination back in February upon realizing it would be difficult to sever his business ties. Viola is a prominent Wall Street trader, the owner of the Florida Panthers hockey club, and majority stakeholder in Virtu Financial and Eastern Air Lines. Viola does indeed have military experience, having graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and serving in the Army Reserves as a major.
Senator Mark Green withdrew for more scandalous reasons. The Tennessee State Senator opted to remove his name from the post after his highly controversial opinions surrounding LGBTQ+ rights, evolution, and, most concerning due to the position, Islam, were revealed publically. The very fact that the president didn’t deduce these shortcomings prior to the nomination, is nothing short of embarrassing and is yet another marker of a ridiculously underqualified commander-in-chief. Green also graduated from West Point and is a former flight surgeon.
Following this same template for the nomination, Trump found himself, allegedly, upon Esper. Esper is a West Point graduate who served as a lieutenant colonel and did active duty tours to Iraq and during the Persian Gulf War. He served as an aide to two United States senators and worked in the United States Chamber of Commerce before assuming this role with Raytheon in 2010.
While this all seems well and good, what is extremely important to note is that the very fact that he serves as a Vice President to Governmental Relations with Raytheon, is a massive conflict of interest. For those unfamiliar with Raytheon, they are the manufactuers of the Tomahawk missiles that President Trump dropped on Syria earlier this year. According to their website:
‘Raytheon Company is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government and cybersecurity solutions. Founded in 1922, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration, capabilities in C5I (command, control, communications, computing, cyber and intelligence), sensing, effects and mission support services. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts.’
It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to put two-and-two together on this one, should Esper become the new secretary of the Army under President Trump, what company is likely to become the Army’s new ‘go-to’ in terms of technology and weapons? Probably Raytheon. This conflict, however direct, is largely being missed due to Esper’s experience in both the public and private sector and former military experience. Americans have become so accustomed to President Trump selecting woefully inexperienced individuals for his posts, that when one with experience comes along, things get missed. Pentagon officials allegedly spoke out in support of the nomination, under the condition of anonymity, and expressed their belief that Esper would be easily confirmed.
While this is far from the first conflict of interest concern that’s been raised thanks to the Trump presidency, it is a significant one that should not be ignored, particularly in light of Trump’s plans to dramatically increase military spending.
Feature Image via Getty Images.