President Donald Trump announced in a tweet that Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan is withdrawing his nomination, with Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, taking his place.
What We Know:
- Shanahan asked to be withdrawn from the nomination process as a result of a painful family situation. “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 believe 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.”
- This sudden change comes after months of speculations surrounding Shanahan’s past, which includes a few violent domestic incidents that did not surface during his confirmation to serve as deputy. The Washington Post reported that his wife was arrested after punching him in the face, and in a separate incident, his son was arrested for hitting his mother with a baseball bat. The worry lies in the amount of damage the public disclosure of these incidents would cause for his family.
- In May, President Trump announced that he would nominate Shanahan but the formal nomination process had been delayed. The position hasn’t been filled since General James Mattis retired in January.
- President Trump expressed that he prefers officials in an “acting” capacity, however, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have urged him to make his nomination official. According to Military Times’ Leo Shane, Shanahan’s departure means that four of Defense Department’s top five civilians are serving in an acting capacity: SecDef, DepSecDef, Army Secretary, and Air Force Secretary.
Pentagon officials announced on Tuesday that Shanahan will officially step down on June 23.