Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green (R), President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next Army secretary, knew Saddam Hussein far better than most Americans. Green was part of the special operations team that captured the Iraqi dictator in 2003, and he interrogated him for hours.
In 2015, Green spoke at a church in Tennessee and gave some advice to attendees about how to avoid the “downward spiral” away from God that Hussein fell victim to: stop looking at Victoria’s Secret catalogues.
“In 1st Timothy, Paul tells Timothy, ‘Guard your conscience, because if you don’t, it will result in the destruction of your faith.’ ... It will take you down that spiral of Romans 1. It will take you down the spiral that Saddam Hussein wound up thinking he was God,” Green said.
“That’s the process of how you get to Saddam Hussein, is you take one little step away from the truth,” he continued. “You break your conscience just a little bit. You walk away and you look at that Victoria’s Secrets [sic] catalogue when you know you probably shouldn’t. And it’s one step away from God, and it’s one step closer to Saddam Hussein.”
Green has also invoked his faith in explaining why he opposes allowing transgender people to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. He has said blocking such policies are part of his mission to “crush evil”:
The government exists to honor those people who live honorably, who do good things – to reward people who behave well and to crush evil. 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.
Green is becoming one of Trump’s most controversial nominees, in large part because of the comments he has made about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, as first reported by HuffPost.
The Tennessee state senator recently sponsored legislation that would bar local governments from considering companies’ internal policies (such as whether they discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation) when doing business or giving out contracts. He has also said he believes being transgender is a disease.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who chairs the committee that will consider Green’s nomination, has said some of his comments have been “very concerning.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another member of the Armed Services Committee, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) both came out against Green’s confirmation Wednesday.
There are rumors that Green may withdraw his name from consideration, although his spokesperson has said that speculation is incorrect. Green has gone after the “liberal left” for making him seem like an LGBTQ “hater” and stated that he believes “every American has a right to defend their country regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion.”
With growing opposition to Green, 11 House Republicans wrote a letter to McCain and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Wednesday supporting him.
“Any attempt to politicize personal statements or views that have been expressed by Mark at any point throughout his career must not be allowed to supersede his qualifications or be conflated to create needless uncertainty with his nomination,” they wrote.
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