Shanahan Out as Pentagon Chief
By Staff, Agencies
Patrick Shanahan withdrew his nomination to become the next War Secretary, US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Tuesday, leaving the Pentagon without a permanent head for the foreseeable future.
The withdrawal of the former Boeing executive’s nomination came on the heels of multiple media reports Tuesday chronicling a history of domestic violence and assault in the Shanahan family. According to the Washington Post, Shanahan’s son William assaulted his mother, Kimberley, with a baseball bat in 2011. In 2010, police in Seattle arrested Kimberley after a violent confrontation between her and Shanahan, her then-husband, according to USA Today. They subsequently divorced.
The FBI has been investigating the domestic violence issues as part of its background investigation into the nominee, and that has delayed Shanahan’s nomination process. Shanahan was originally supposed to go before the Senate for his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. It is not clear why these issues did not come up during his confirmation process to be deputy secretary of war in 2017.
In a statement on Tuesday, Shanahan said he decided to withdraw his name from consideration for the top Pentagon job because “my continuing in the confirmation process would force my three children to relive a traumatic chapter in our family’s life and reopen wounds we have worked years to heal. Ultimately, their safety and well-being is my highest priority.”
“After having been confirmed for Deputy Secretary less than two years ago, it is unfortunate that 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 this process,” Shanahan said. “I would welcome the opportunity to be Secretary of War, but not at the expense of being a good father.”
Shanahan has served as acting War secretary since his predecessor, Secretary of War 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.
But it does not look like the top Pentagon job will be filled anytime soon. Trump left Shanahan hanging for months before he announced his intent to name him to the permanent position; any new nominee will still have to be subjected to an extensive background check, noted Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha. Meanwhile, the Senate will break for recess in August. A new nominee will likely have to wait until the fall for confirmation, at the earliest, Callan said.
With Shanahan out, Army Secretary Mark Esper, a former Army infantry officer and lobbyist for the firm Raytheon, will take over as acting secretary, Trump wrote on Twitter.