Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanUS to send 1K additional troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions US to send 1K additional troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of ‘nuclear blackmail’ | Details on key defense bill amendments MORE has withdrawn from consideration to lead the Pentagon on a permanent basis, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says ‘Failing New York Times’ should be held ‘fully accountable’ over Russia report Trump says ‘Failing New York Times’ should be held ‘fully accountable’ over Russia report Trump tweets ICE will begin removing ‘millions’ of undocumented migrants MORE announced Tuesday.
Trump said in a pair of tweets Shanahan wanted to “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,” Trump tweeted.
The president said he would name Mark Esper, who currently serves as secretary of the Army, as the new acting Defense chief, but did not say if he would be nominated for the permanent role. Esper is a former infantry officer and top executive at the defense contractor Raytheon.
….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. I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
The announcement came shortly after reports surfaced that Shanahan’s FBI background check was being held up by an alleged 2010 domestic fight with his now-ex wife.
The White House first announced in May that Trump intended to nominate Shanahan as Defense secretary.
But his nomination was never officially sent to the Senate. As more and more time passed, questions began to swirl on whether Trump was souring on Shanahan.
Last week, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenate rejects effort to block Trump’s Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump’s Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Shanahan: ‘No concerns’ about FBI background check for nomination MORE (R-Okla.) called reports that Trump was having second thoughts on Shanahan “phony” and said senators were only waiting for his FBI background check to proceed.
Shanahan himself said he had “no concerns” about the background check.
But after rumors circulated under the radar for weeks, reports began to come out publicly this week that the process was being marred by the alleged domestic incident.
As reported by USA Today on Tuesday, police reports and court filings showed that an Aug. 2010 fight with his ex-wife escalated into a physical clash. The wife, Kimberley Jordinson, reportedly told police he punched her in the stomach, while he told police she was the aggressor and punched him “10 or 20 times.”
She was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, but prosecutors later dropped the charges citing a lack of evidence.
The Washington Post also detailed a 2011 incident in which Shanahan’s son hit Jordinson with a baseball bat and left Jordinson unconscious in a pool of blood.
“Bad things can happen to good families . . . and this is a tragedy, really,” Shanahan told the Post in an interview published shortly after Trump’s tweets. Dredging up the episode publicly, Shanahan said, “will ruin my son’s life.”
Shanahan’s road to becoming Defense secretary had been rocky from the start. The 30-year Boeing executive, whose first job in government was as deputy Defense secretary in the Trump administration, was dogged by allegations of tipping the scales for his former employee while serving in the Pentagon.
An inspector general investigation that concluded in April cleared Shanahan of the charges of violating his ethics agreement.
Shanahan also faced questions about his level of experience and ability to handle weighty strategic issues having only served in government since 2017.
The questions were amplified by comparisons to his predecessor, Jim Mattis, who senators from both parties admired as one of the so-called “adults in the room” reining in Trump’s more dangerous impulses.