Shanahan Drops Out Of Running For Defense Secretary
BY BRIAN NAYLOR
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has removed himself from consideration to permanently lead the Defense Department.
President Trump tweeted Tuesday that Shanahan “has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family.”
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who has done a wonderful job, has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
Shanahan’s decision to drop out of the running for the top job at DOD follows a report in USA Today that he was accused of domestic violence by his then-wife in 2010, which he denies, and an interview with The Washington Post that details another domestic violence incident involving his son.
“Bad things can happen to good families … and this is a tragedy, really,” Shanahan told the Post.
In a statement, Shanahan said, “[A] painful and deeply personal family situation from long ago is being dredged up and painted in an incomplete and therefore misleading way in the course” of the nomination process, adding that he is withdrawing to spare his three adult children public scrutiny.
He also said he is resigning as deputy defense secretary, a post he assumed in 2017.
Trump said he was naming Secretary of the Army Mark Esper to be the new acting defense secretary. Esper is a West Point graduate and a former executive at defense contractor Raytheon.
Trump announced he had selected Shanahan to succeed Jim Mattis in May but had not yet submitted a formal nomination to the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Esper was “a good choice” for acting defense secretary, adding, “I do think we’d be better off by far to have a secretary of defense that was actually confirmed by the Senate.”
In a statement, the executive director of Citizens For Responsibility And Ethics in Washington, Noah Bookbinder, said Esper will “risk being tainted by his previous work for a major defense contractor.” Noting that Raytheon has announced plans to merge with another defense contractor, United Technologies, Bookbinder said Esper’s ethics agreement, and his ability to follow it, “will be something we will be watching closely.”
Shanahan had also faced questions about his background as a former Boeing employee, but an investigation found Shanahan did not commit ethics violations.
The leadership changes come as tensions between the U.S. and Iran have increased. Monday night, Shanahan announced the U.S. was sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East “for defensive purposes.” The Trump administration has charged Iran with attacking commercial shipping in the region.
Copyright 2019 NPR
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