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Billionaire N.Y. businessman, veteran is Trump’s pick for Army secretary


    Vincent Viola talked to the media about the future of the Florida Panthers during a Sept. 2013 press conference in Sunrise, Fla. President-elect Donald J. Trump today picked Viola as secretary of the Army.

PALM BEACH, Fla. >> President-elect Donald Trump today tapped another billionaire businessman for an administration job, naming Army veteran and fellow New Yorker Vincent Viola to be his secretary of the Army.

Trump had meetings planned with a group of businessmen and former U.S. government officials as he sought to fill other posts, including that of U.S. trade representative. He met with Robert Lighthizer, a former deputy U.S. trade representative in the Reagan administration, an official said.

Viola, Trump’s choice to be the civilian head of the Army, is a West Point graduate who joins a list of former military men already chosen for the Cabinet. Trump’s picks for defense secretary, homeland security secretary, national security adviser and deputy national security adviser are retired military.

In a written statement, Trump praised Viola, the son of Italian immigrants, as “living proof of the American dream” and someone who has a lengthy history of engagement with national security issues.

Viola grew up in Brooklyn, the first member of his family to attend college. He was trained as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer and served in the 101st Airborne Division. A lawyer, he started multiple businesses and bought the Florida Panthers hockey team for $250 million in 2013.

Trump announced his choice for Army secretary from Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach, Florida, estate where he was spending the holidays with his family and working on the transition. It came as electors in all 50 states were meeting to formally elect him president, paving his way to take office on Jan. 20.

Viola would join a circle of wealthy businessmen Trump has chosen for the administration, including fast food executive Andy Puzder to lead the Labor Department, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for Commerce, financier Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary and Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn as his top economic adviser.

More open posts remain. Trump was also meeting today with Thad Allen, the retired Coast Guard commandant who oversaw the federal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

R. Donahue Peebles, board chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, also had an appointment with Trump. Peebles is also founder, chairman and CEO of Peebles Corp., a real estate development and investment company.

J. Christopher Reyes, co-chairman of Reyes Holdings, a Chicago-based beer and food distributor, was also on Trump’s meeting schedule for today, said Trump spokesman Jason Miller.

Meanwhile, Vice President-elect Mike Pence was holding transition meetings in New York, including a foreign policy discussion with Henry Kissinger, who was secretary of state under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

On Sunday, some of Trump’s closest advisers pushed back against Democrats’ complaints that Russia had hacked into their private emails this election season in a bid to sow discord among their supporters and sway the election toward Republicans.

“Let’s assume it’s true,” Reince Priebus, Trump’s incoming chief of staff, said of Russian interference in the election. “There’s no evidence that shows that the outcome of the election was changed because of a couple dozen John Podesta emails that were out there.”

The number of leaked emails by Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, was actually closer to tens of thousands. And it’d be difficult to prove exactly what influenced voters.

Democrats said the hack was a personal attack and a threat to democracy.

“The emails were weaponized,” said Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee. The committee’s emails were also hacked and publicly exposed. “The release of stolen, hacked emails caused a lot of confusion and of course it disrupted our daily campaign life.”

Trump has previously deemed “ridiculous” the intelligence community’s finding of Russian involvement.

AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace and Associated Press writer Anne Flaherty in Washington contributed to this report.

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  • At last. A Secretary of the Army who uses the Men’s restroom. All of us who served — I presume–were shocked when Obama put in a gay Secretary. What message does that send to other countries, Armies?? Thank God we have a President-elect who uses logic. Yes, another businessman–look at the waste in the Army procurement–drain the swamp!!

    • Serious, you may catch a little bit of flack for the comment, but, oh how true.
      As unorthodox as Trump has picked his cabinet and help to run the country, it may be exactly what we need to get beyond the normalcy of how our country is run.
      I am very anxious to see what happens now.

    • All branches of the military are equally guilty in terms of waste in the procurement process Having served in the Army on active duty as well as working for DOD for a total 36 years, I was exposed to same in every branch of service, its comes from the top down, Washington spends our tax dollars like a drunken sailor on weekend leave and the pattern trickles down, no logic involved whatsoever. Career politicians are the cause. It’s been so long since we actually won a war that active duty service members are more concerned with making rank than accomplishing the mission, mostly because the mission has no direction.

    • Oh yeah he is going to run the country like his personal business and he will be enjoy being the king of the world. The ultimate notch on his belt. I didn’t like HIllary either. You who are so afraid of gays scare me more than Trump!


    • No, all of us who served were not shocked when a gay man was made Secretary of the Army. Only the ignorant neanderthals were. There have been gay men and women in the Army forever.

      Grow up and learn something.

  • Alex Jones reports that Donna and Podesta are setting up a new company with Google designed to make Dem pols into billionaries like Trump and Co so they can win an election again some time in the future. They are attending classes in the basement of the Hillary Estate in upstate New York about how to get started using grants from George Soros.

  • No matter how many general officers and other former veterans Mr. Trump surrounds himself with, he cannot erase the stain of being a draft dodging coward.

    That will be with him forever.

      • It would be better for you klastri to respond to my specific comment instead of engaging in worthless vague generalities which you are prone to do. Do you deny the fact that Brazile destroyed her own credibility by leaking CNN debate questions to the Clinton campaign? Don’t let the truth trip you on the way out.

        • Then I’ll be more specific. The truthful statement made by Ms. Brazile was mischaracterized by you as being “laughable.” There is nothing “laughable” about a foreign power meddling with an election.

          It’s no wonder why Mr. Putin wanted to see Mr. Trump in office. Trump is an ignoramus who knows absolutely nothing about foreign affairs, and he proves that over and over every day. As do his pathetic followers.

          Is that specific enough?

        • Klastri, I believe the hacked emails showed they were in fact “weaponized” in the sense that they showed the attack on our democracy being perpetrated by the corrupt, unethical, immoral and possibly illegal actions of the Democrat National Committee, the Clinton Campaign, the media and even the Obama Administration, and the collusion amongst them to help Hillary defeat Sanders in the primary election and Trump in the general election. Instead of attacking the messenger, be it Russia or anyone else, the focus and concern should be on the message delivered.

        • Can’t agree more with Ronin that hacking was not issue but what the e-mail contained! Shooting the messenger does not detract from what the party did to Sanders. Like the private servers/pcs used bu Hillary and minions and how vulnerable our classified materials, especially State Department business were avaialble to foreign powers. It’s what contained in the messages that is the issue. Not whether the servers were legit!

  • I can’t wait when he replaces the two skirts than run the air force and the navy that Obama appointed they are only turning the air force and navy men into sissy’s one wants to build a transgender bathroom on a submarine the other one wants to turn the air force into a wimp air force, can’t wait when those two bitc__s. are gone. and trump appoints veterans to bring back the navy and the air force to greatness.

      • there not pathetic you are, the truth hurts because I stated facts about 2 women officers which was true, go look in the Sunday paper adds and see if they have Kleenex tissues on sale and go by some, you need it. get over it the female felon lost and trump won.

  • TRUMPIES were screaming that Wall St. Billionaires had a spot on Hillary’s team. What happened? Is this the most influential cabinet in the history of the USA? My,my,my…Oh and he said “No We cannot LOCKHERUP.

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