Shanahan Withdraws Defense Secretary Bid, Esper To Take Over


Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has withdrawn from consideration to take over the post on a permanent basis, President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday, after reports surfaced of a domestic abuse incident almost a decade ago.

Trump said he will name Secretary of the Army Mark Esper as the new acting defense secretary, a day after Shanahan announced the Defense Department would send an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East amid tensions with Iran.

“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,” Trump said on Twitter.

Shanahan’s exit comes amid reports of alleged domestic abuse with his former wife. In a statement issued to USA Today, Shanahan, a former Boeing 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.”

Both Shanahan and his ex-wife, Kimberly Jordinson, acknowledged in court filings and police reports that a late-night argument on August 28, 2010, after both had been drinking, spilled from their bedroom to the front yard of their Seattle home, according to USA Today.

The White House announced in May that Trump planned to nominate Shanahan as defense secretary to succeed Jim Mattis, who quit in December. The move was supposed to help bring greater stability to Trump’s national security team, which lacks Senate-confirmed leaders at the Pentagon and United Nations.

Unlike Mattis, a laconic former Marine Corps general, Shanahan has been an unabashed Trump supporter, backing the president’s efforts to use Pentagon money for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border over bipartisan congressional opposition and endeavoring to scale back, though not eliminate, the U.S. military presence in Syria.

“Based upon his outstanding service to the Country and his demonstrated ability to lead, President Trump intends to nominate Patrick M. Shanahan to be the secretary of Defense,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that was posted on Twitter May 9.

While Trump never formally nominated Shanahan, the announcement that he would do so was seen as an effort to help stabilize the administration’s national security operation, which lacks Senate-confirmed leaders at the Pentagon and the United Nations.

Sanders cited Shanahan’s leadership — no one has served longer as acting Pentagon chief — as evidence that he’s “beyond qualified to lead the Department of Defense, and he will continue to do an excellent job.”

Trump originally embraced having former military brass in his administration — he liked to refer to “my generals” and called Mattis “Mad Dog,” a nickname the former Marine Corps general disliked — their tendency to resist his demands wore thin. While Shanahan has been more accommodating, his mild-mannered and sometimes tentative style in public lacked the swagger Trump admires in his top aides.

Esper who was confirmed as Army secretary in November 2017, is a former Raytheon Co. vice president for government relations. He’s a 1986 graduate of West Point who served in the infantry for more than 10 years, including the Gulf War in 1991.

(c) 2019, Bloomberg · Glen Carey  



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