Shanahan withdraws from consideration to be U.S. defense secretary

Erika Holt
June 19, 2019

WASHINGTON-President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that Pat Shanahan has made a decision to end his bid to become the next defense secretary, after reports emerged of domestic violence during Shanahan's marriage.

"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", the president said in the posting.

Mr Shanahan, who will be replaced by Army Secretary Mark Esper, had not yet been nominated for the cabinet post.

Shanahan had been the deputy secretary of defense until Secretary of Defense James Mattis resigned on January 1. He also worked as a senior policy adviser and legislative director for Senator Chuck Hagel, policy director for the House Armed Services Committee, and, from 2002 to 2004, deputy assistant secretary of defense for negotiations policy for the George W. Bush administration. In a statement issued to USA Today, Shanahan, a former Boeing Co. executive, said: "Though my marriage ended in sorrow and disappointment, I never laid a hand on my then-wife and cooperated fully in a thorough law enforcement investigation that resulted in her being charged with assault against me - charges which I had dropped in the interest of my family".

Trump's critics had already questioned whether Shanahan, without Senate confirmation, had the power to stand up to Trump if he had a difference of opinion on military strategy, since his nomination could be withdrawn at any time.

This news comes over a month after Trump announced that Shanahan would head up the Pentagon.

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Shanahan denied the allegation from his ex-wife in a statement Tuesday morning. But USA Today reported that both he and his wife had claimed they had been punched by the other.

In 2011, the couple's son, William Shanahan, brutally beat his mother with a baseball bat, leaving her unconscious and fracturing her skull, records show.

Trump told reporters Tuesday that Shanahan planned to take time off "for family matters", adding that he didn't ask him to withdraw his name from consideration. "Ultimately, their safety and well-being is my highest priority".

He was officially nominated to be the next Pentagon chief in May, but his formal nomination process in the Senate kept being delayed. Esper was Trump's third nominee as Army Secretary, after the president's first two choices withdrew after embarrassing or disqualifying details came to light about their personal lives.

On Monday, the United States military released new images it said showed Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) removing an unexploded mine from a Japanese-owned tanker following the suspected attacks.

FILE PHOTO: Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks at a "Strategic National Security Space: FY2020 Budget and Policy Forum", hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019.

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