Trump tweets Shanahan has withdrawn from consideration as defense secretary

Trump tweets Shanahan has withdrawn from consideration as defense secretary

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan withdrew his name from consideration to be the next permanent Pentagon chief on Tuesday, saying the confirmation process is proving too hard for his family.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, seated between national security adviser John Bolton and President Trump, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on March 22, 2019.

The president also announced that Army Secretary Mark Esper will be new acting secretary.

Mattis had offered to stay on until the end of February, but on December 23, Trump fired Mattis and replaced him with Shanahan, who would be acting secretary until such a time when he could be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Trump's announcement of Shanahan's decision came shortly after USA Today newspaper reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been examining a nine-year-old domestic dispute involving Shanahan and his then-wife as part of a background check for the job as Pentagon chief.

In a statement late Monday, Shanahan said it was "painful" to see his past "dredged up and painted in an incomplete and therefore misleading way as a result of this nomination process".

"I can't tell you how long the process is supposed to work", Shanahan responded when asked why it is taking so long for his paperwork to be sent from the White House.

Shanahan had been in the job, in an acting capacity, since Mattis stepped down at the end of 2018 following disputes with the president that included Trump's decision to withdraw USA troops from Syria.

Shanahan, who grew up in Seattle, was nominated and confirmed as deputy defense secretary in 2017. The delay was likely related to a 2011 domestic-violence incident in which Shanahan's then-17-year-old son hit his mother in the head with a baseball bat. "I wish nothing but the best for her and regret that my children's privacy has been violated and they are being forced to relive a tragic situation that we have worked so hard as a family to put behind us".

Lawmakers praised the selection of Mr. Esper but said the White House should act quickly to find a permanent defense secretary.

Esper's name had previously been floated before Trump nominated Shanahan and his allies have been pushing for the President to nominate him over the acting secretary for weeks. I didn't know about it.

Outside of uniform, Esper has worked at the conservative-leaning Washington think tank the Heritage Foundation, as an adviser to the House Armed Services Committee, as a professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations and Government Affairs committees, and as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for negotiations policy during the George W. Bush presidency.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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