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Shanahan steps down as acting Secretary of Defense amid reported FBI investigation

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan, Secretary of the Air Force Heather A. Wilson, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, commander, United States Strategic Command, deliver testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on the proposal to establish a United States Space Force at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, April 11, 2019. (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro/Released)
June 18, 2019

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates as more information becomes available.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has withdrawn his nomination for defense secretary and will no longer be considered for the confirmation process, President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday.

Shanahan’s withdrawal from the Secretary of Defense nomination follows an FBI probe that was delaying his confirmation process.

The probe was reportedly centered on a 2010 domestic violence incident involving Shanahan and his wife at the time, Kimberley, in which both claimed the other had punched them, USA Today reported Tuesday. Shanahan maintains he “never laid a hand on” his former wife, although she maintains her claims.

President Trump tweeted, “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.”

“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!” Trump added.

USA Today reported Shanahan’s written statement released Monday night following initial reports of the domestic incident:

After having been confirmed for deputy secretary less than two years ago, 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. Though my marriage ended in sorrow and disappointment, I never laid a hand on my then-wife and cooperated fully in a thorough law enforcement investigation that resulted in her being charged with assault against me—charges which I had dropped in the interest of my family. Our story is not dissimilar to those of the many families facing the difficult challenges that come when a loved one struggles with substance abuse and other emotional issues as is the case with my former-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.

On May 9, the White House had announced Shanahan would be nominated to the position.

Shanahan had assumed the role of Acting Secretary of Defense at the first of the year, shortly after former Secretary of Defense James Mattis submitted his letter of resignation.

Esper, who will now fill Shanahan’s role, was confirmed as Army Secretary in November 2017.

A former Raytheon executive and lobbyist, Esper’s confirmation was delayed at the time due to concerns of his defense industry background. Esper then submitted a letter vowing his recusal from matters involving Raytheon.

Esper graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1986 and went on to serve more than a decade as an active duty Army Ranger, and served in 1990-1991 in the Gulf War. He headed an airborne rifle company while in Europe, and served another decade as a reservist in the Virginia and District of Columbia National Guard and Army Reserve.