The controversial White House nomination of retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata to the Pentagon's top policy post has been withdrawn. But he will stay at the Defense Department with an appointment that will allow him to avoid Senate confirmation.
Tata withdrew from consideration for the Pentagon's No. 3 position as undersecretary of defense for policy, but will keep an appointed job with a new title that doesn't require Senate approval, according to a Pentagon statement to The Washington Post and CNN on Sunday night.
In his new post, Tata, who had been serving since April as a senior adviser to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, will become "the official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy reporting to the Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James Anderson," according to the Pentagon.
In a statement, Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, condemned the move to keep Tata at the Pentagon as "an insult to our troops."
"Clearly, President Trump wants people who will swear allegiance to him over the Constitution," Reed said. "His hand-picked candidate for this critical position was on the verge of potentially being rejected on the merits. This is a flagrant end run around the confirmation process."
Tata had been scheduled for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, but it was abruptly canceled as opposition mounted over his controversial Twitter posts and statements as a Fox News contributor, in which he has condemned Islam as the "most oppressive violent religion I know of" and called former President Barack Obama a "terrorist leader."
In a statement on the hearing cancellation, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, the committee chairman, said, "There are many Democrats and Republicans who didn't know enough about Anthony Tata to consider him for a very significant position at this time."
The 60-year-old Tata had been nominated to replace John Rood as undersecretary for policy. Rood resigned in February after it was disclosed that he had warned against withholding military aid to Ukraine, a central issue in Trump's impeachment by the House and later acquittal by the Senate.
Tata, a West Point graduate, served 28 years in the Army, including a tour in Afghanistan as deputy commander of the 10th Mountain Division, before retiring in 2009 under a cloud after an investigation by the Army's Inspector General alleged that he had had at least two extramarital affairs.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.