WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of the Army withdrew from consideration on Friday following reports that he described his opposition to transgender equality as part of his mission as a public official to “crush evil.”
Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green withdrew his name from consideration for the position two weeks after the Huffington Post first reported statements he made about his opposition to legislation that would allow transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender with which they identify.
The Huffington Post also reported Green told a questioner at a meeting of Tea Party Republicans that tenants of Islam should not be taught in public schools.
“The government exists to honor those people who live honorably, who do good things – to reward people who behave well and to crush evil,” Green reportedly said. “So that means as a state senator my responsibility very clearly in Romans 13 is to create an environment where people who do right are rewarded and the people who do wrong are crushed. Evil is crushed. So I’m going to protect women in their bathrooms and I’m going to protect our state against potential infiltration from the Syrian ISIS people in the refugee program. And whoever wants to stand up and take me on that, I’m ready to fight.”
The comments drew strong public opposition to Green’s candidacy from LGBT and civil rights groups. Green insisted the allegations against him as “false and misleading attacks,” but withdrew his name because the comments would cause “distractions.”
“Tragically, my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain,” Green said in a statement. “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.”
Multiple Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, came out against Green’s nomination after the Huffington Post reports.
“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,” Schumer said in a statement Friday. “He was the wrong choice to serve as Secretary, and should not have been nominated in the first place.”
Green is the second Trump pick for Army secretary to withdraw from contention for the position, as billionaire Vincent Viola backed out in February.