Trump's pick for Pentagon chief unexpectedly pulled his name out of the running and stepped down
- Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, President Trump's pick to lead the Pentagon, has withdrawn from the confirmation process and is stepping down to spend more time with his family, Trump announced Tuesday.
- Shanahan's decisions come amid reports of his ineffective leadership and investigations into his previous marriage.
- Secretary of the Army Mark Esper will serve as the new acting secretary of defense.
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President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that his pick to lead the Pentagon is pulling out and will not move forward with the confirmation process, a move that adds to turmoil after the unprecedented 5-month stretch that the US military has gone without a permanent secretary.
"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," the president tweeted. "I thank Pat for his outstanding service."
Trump said that he will be naming Mark Esper, the current secretary of the Army, as the new acting secretary of defense.
The acting secretary's withdrawal follows a report from POLITICO where critics cast Shanahan as an ineffective leader who has left the Pentagon a rudderless ship rife with indecision and a report from USA Today calling attention to FBI investigations into allegations of domestic violence involving his ex-wife, which could have complicated the nomination process.
Shanahan was critical of reports into his family life. "It is unfortunate that such a painful and deeply personal family situation from long ago is being dredged up and painted in an incomplete and therefore misleading way as a result of this nomination process," he said in a statement, arguing that he never laid a hand on his ex-wife.
"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."
It is unclear to what degree these reports and the investigations affected Shanahan's decision, but he did tell reporters that he was concerned that efforts to dig into his past could ruin his family's life. The president has yet to name a new nominee.
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....- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
....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!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019