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Shanahan Withdraws Following Disclosure Of Domestic Violence Charges

Trump’s pick for defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, has withdrawn from consideration and will step down as acting defense secretary after a family domestic violence scandal surfaced.

It’s been 168 days since former Defense Secretary James Mattis left the Trump administration in protest on January 1 — and the nation will have to wait even longer for a new permanent defense secretary. Shahanan’s exit also means that the Department of Defense doesn’t have confirmed nominees in four of the five top posts, according to the Military Times’ Leo Shane III.

“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,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. “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!”

According to USA Today, the FBI has been looking into a 2010 incident between Shanahan and his ex-wife. Shanahan reportedly told police that his ex-wife, Kimberly, had punched him, while Kimberly told police that Shanahan had punched her. The Washington Post also reported that Shanahan’s son seriously injured Kimberly by beating her with a baseball bat, and that Shanahan defended his son because his mother “harassed him for nearly three hours before the incident.”

Shanahan is the latest Trump Cabinet nominee to be felled by a domestic violence scandal.

Andrew Puzder was forced to withdraw from consideration as Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Labor thanks to a domestic violence scandal. And others have been forced to leave the administration after domestic violence incidents from their past emerged, notably former White House staff secretary Rob Porter.

It’s yet another instance of poor vetting by the Trump administration, which USA Today reports did not know about the domestic violence incident before nominating Shanahan to be deputy secretary of defense in 2017, nor when Trump decided to promote Shanahan to the Pentagon’s top role earlier this year following Mattis’ departure.

Trump, for his part, has already faced criticism for how long he’s left such an important administration role vacant.

But that criticism is likely to grow. Shanahan’s withdrawal from consideration comes as the Trump administration is escalating tensions with Iran, and days after Shanahan approved an additional 1,000 troops to be deployed to the Middle East.

Trump’s inability to nominate a competent person for such a vital role is a scary thought, especially as the worst voices in his orbit like national security adviser John Bolton push Trump toward conflictwith hostile nations.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

IMAGE: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan at the Pentagon, May 6, 2019.

Angered By Coverage Of Mattis Resignation, Trump Speeds Departure

Infuriated over Defense Secretary James Mattis’ scathing letter of resignation, President Trump declared on Sunday that the defense secretary would be out of office two months before his planned February departure. Trump said he will replace Mattis almost immediately with Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive with little government experience and few qualifications.

Military commanders were reportedly stunned by Trump’s sudden move, which further destabilizes the Pentagon and service branches as they try to manage withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan. But rather than consider the impact of an abrupt change in leadership, Trump pushed Mattis out in reaction to coverage of the resignation letter, as senior administration officials told the Washington Post. The president reportedly was keen to embarrass the widely respected Mattis, whom he suspected of encouraging negative stories about the Trump White House.

Typically, Trump didn’t inform Mattis himself of the decision to speed up the defense secretary’s removal from office. Instead, the Post reported, he peevishly told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call the defense secretary and inform Mattis of his decision.

Concluding what had long been a tense relationship, Mattis quit in protest last Thursday after Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria — despite strong objections from the defense secretary and others. (Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy to the international coalition fighting the Islamic State, also resigned to protest the Syria decision.)

His replacement Shanahan, a mechanical engineer by training, has few relevant qualifications for a job that requires diplomatic and political skill. One acquaintance described him as “provincial” and “fairly right-wing,” but more importantly he is also said to have learned how to flatter Trump. Although absence of qualifications is usually no bar to a place in Trump’s cabinet, Shanahan probably will not be submitted for Senate confirmation as defense secretary. Administration officials have said that the search for a new defense secretary will begin immediately.

IMAGE: President-elect Donald Trump (L) and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R) greet retired Marine General James Mattis in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

 

Senate Confirms Ashton Carter As New Defense Secretary

By W.J. Hennigan, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve the nomination of Ashton B. Carter, a former senior Pentagon official, as President Barack Obama’s fourth secretary of defense.

Carter, 60, will take over the Pentagon as the administration steps up the air war against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, officials consider slowing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and a new round of across-the-board spending cuts loom.

Carter, who will be sworn in next week, has worked under both Democratic and Republican presidents. He won unanimous support earlier this week from the Senate Armed Services Committee.

His easy sail through the confirmation process in the Republican-led Congress stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator who saw his nomination blocked for nearly two weeks two years ago after he stumbled in his confirmation hearings.

Hagel announced plans to resign on Nov. 24 under pressure from the White House. Hagel, who will stay in the job until Carter is sworn in, has not disclosed his plans after he leaves the Pentagon.

During his confirmation hearing, Carter decried the “malignant and savage terrorism” of Islamic State militants, warned of Iran’s expanding influence across the Middle East and called for an end to the congressionally mandated spending cuts known as sequestration.

Carter also said he was “very much inclined” to provide weapons and ammunition to Ukrainian government forces fighting Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, signaling a possible shift in administration policy.

In a White House news conference on Monday, Obama said for the first time that he was considering supplying arms to Ukraine. But he said he had not made a decision and listed reasons why he might oppose deepening the U.S. involvement.

The issue may be moot, however, if a cease-fire deal announced Thursday in Minsk, Belarus, leads to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Carter’s immediate focus will be military operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as well as renewed violence in Afghanistan. The military is also trying to deploy additional forces to Asia and the Western Pacific, partly to counterbalance China.

Carter first joined the Pentagon in 1981 under President Ronald Reagan as a technical analyst. A decade later, President Bill Clinton named him assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, where he worked to ensure that the former Soviet nuclear weapons stockpile did not fall into the hands of potential terrorists or rogue states.

Carter left the Pentagon in 1996. He returned in 2009 to serve in the department’s No. 3 slot as the chief weapons buyer, working on the $400-billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. He was named deputy secretary in 2011 but left again after Obama picked Hagel to succeed Leon E. Panetta.

AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan