Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan withdrew from consideration to become the agency’s permanent chief and will be replaced by Army Secretary Mark Esper, President Donald Trump announced Tuesday.
“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 wrote in a tweet. “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!”
The surprise withdrawal concluded a bumpy and challenging tenure for Shanahan in the Pentagon’s top job. In recent weeks the administration offered no explanation why Shanahan’s nomination paperwork had not reached the Senate, according to Politico.
During Shanahan’s tenure criticism had surfaced about his lack of military experience, his deep ties to his former employer Boeing and complaints that he permitted White House intervention in his chain of command.
Shanahan’s surprise withdrawal also coincided with the publication of details that emerged of alleged domestic violence incidents involving Shanahan’s son and his then-wife that the FBI investigated as part of his background check.
Shanahan has served as the Pentagon’s acting secretary since January after Marine Corps Gen. Jim Mattis resigned from the post in late December. Shanahan has served at the Pentagon since 2017, becoming an under secretary that year.
DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando