President Donald Trump announced today via tweet that his Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan (right) had withdrawn his nomination to become Secretary of Defense due to family-related issues.
Army Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper (left) — who has obviously been Senate-confirmed in the past — was immediately tapped by President Trump to replace Shanahan.
Mr. Shanahan released a formal DoD statement Tuesday afternoon, citing his work over the past two years and the strong position in which he leaves the Department of Defense. Identifying concern for his family’s well-being as his rationale for withdrawing his name from Senate confirmation consideration, Mr. Shanahan wrote:
“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. After having been confirmed for Deputy Secretary less than two years ago, 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. 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. Ultimately, their safety and well-being is my highest priority. “
And the Pentagon transition commences, with reports pegging Mr. Shanahan’s last day in the Pentagon at 23 June.
The crack reporters at Military Times / Defense News were on the “who’s next for SECDEF” story immediately with their identification of Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) , Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, as well as dark horse candidates Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.