Shanahan Withdraws as Acting Defense Sec, Trump Nominates Esper

By Bowen Xiao |

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan delivers remarks during a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on May 27, 2019. (Tom Brenner/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump, in a June 18 announcement, said that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has withdrawn from consideration, as he nominated the Secretary of the Army Mark Esper to take on the Pentagon position.

Esper had been considered a leading contender for the job if Shanahan was ultimately not confirmed. The president’s announcement followed a USA Today report that detailed how the FBI had been looking at a “violent domestic dispute” between Shanahan and his then-wife from nine years ago, as part of a background investigation ahead of his possible confirmation.

Trump said the withdrawal stemmed from Shanahan’s wish to spend more time with his family, as he expressed confidence in Esper taking on the role.

“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.

“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,” he said in a separate post. “I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!”

The abrupt announcement came as the Pentagon post had not been permanently filled since January this year.

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