Acting US Defense Secretary Shanahan Steps Down as Domestic Violence Reports Surface

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan (Photo: AP)

Patrick Shanahan withdrew his nomination to become the next secretary of defense, US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Tuesday, just hours after reports of Shanahan’s family’s history of domestic violence surfaced.

“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 tweeted.

In a separate post, Trump named Mark Esper, the current secretary of the Army, as the new acting secretary of defense.

“I thank Pat for his outstanding service and will be naming Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, to be the new Acting Secretary of Defense,” the president tweeted. “I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!”

Esper was the vice president for government relations at the Raytheon Company before being named Secretary of the Army in 2017, and previously served as national security advisor for Republican senator Bill Frist, when Frist was the senate majority leader.

Shanahan later confirmed that he asked to be withdrawn from the process. In a statement released Monday night, he addressed a violent domestic dispute from nine years ago with his then-wife.

The 2010 incident is part of an FBI background investigation ahead of his possible confirmation hearing to be President Trump’s permanent defense chief.

Shanahan has served as acting defense secretary since his predecessor, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, resigned in December 2018. Shanahan’s nearly six months in office is the longest period in US history in which the Pentagon has gone without a permanent chief.

The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, urged the president to fill the top post at the Pentagon “in a matter of weeks, not months.”

“The uncertainty surrounding this vacant office encourages our enemies and unsettles our allies,” he said in a statement.

 

[Sources: USA Today, Independent, Foreign Policy]