Trump's pick for defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, withdrew his name from consideration amid questions about domestic violence incidents in his past.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan withdrew his name from consideration for taking over the position permanently on Tuesday. The sudden decision to step away are likely connected to a series of potential domestic violence incidents that were uncovered during his background checks.
“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,” said Shanahan in a statement. “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.”
President Donald Trump announced the move via Twitter before Shanahan’s statement, but sometime after reports began to surface about problems with Shanahan’s FBI background check. The tweets praised Shanahan for the work he’s done over the past six months as acting secretary. He also announced that Army Secretary Army Mark Esper will be the new acting secretary of defense.
Shanahan has been serving as the acting head of the Defense Department since January, when then Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was forced out of office one month ahead of his planned departure date.
Tuesday’s move leaves the Defense Department in a state of uncertainty along with another vacant secretary position. Last month Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson stepped down, leaving the service without a permanent leader. Adding in Esper’s move will leave three service secretary without a Senate-confirmed lead.