Trump's pick for Pentagon chief has unexpectedly pulled his name out of the running and stepped down

  • Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan, President Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon, has withdrawn from the confirmation process and is stepping down to spend more time with his family, Trump announced Tuesday.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 brutal allegations from his previous marriage.
  • Secretary of the Army Mark Esper will serve as the new acting secretary of defence.
  • Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.

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 the US military has gone through without a permanent secretary.

“Acting Secretary of Defence 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 defence.

Trump announced his intent to nominate Shanahan in early May, but the confirmation process has been delayed by a FBI background check that was taking longer than normal.

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 to USA Today, 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.”

The abuse allegations include a 2011 incident where Shanahan said his son William had acted in self-defence when he attacked his mother with a baseball bat, leaving her unconscious, according to the Washington Post. Shanahan and his ex-wife also each claimed to have been punched by each other.

In his separate statement, on his departure, Shanahan lamented that his family’s troubled history was being dragged out into the open. “The confirmation process should focus on securing our nation against threats, readiness and the future of our military, and ensuring the highest quality care and support for service members and their families,” he 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,” he further explained, “I would welcome the opportunity to be Secretary of Defence, but not at the expense of being a good father.”

The president has yet to name a new nominee.

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