Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan withdrew from consideration for the permanent head of the department and resigned from his post as deputy secretary of defense Tuesday as reports of domestic violence against his ex-wife circulated. Reports included details on a 2011 attack by Shanahan’s then 17-year-old son, who beat his mother with a baseball bat. She was left unconscious with a fractured skull and internal injuries that required surgery. Patrick Shanahan then wrote a memo arguing his son was acting in self-defense after his mother verbally harassed him. He is also believed to have delayed his son’s surrender to police. He apologized for the memo, saying it was only intended for his son’s attorneys. According to The Washington Post, court records also revealed a previous incident in which both Shanahan and his wife alleged they were assaulted by one another.
Lawmakers are raising questions about the vetting process for administration officials and whether the White House knew and deliberately withheld allegations against Shanahan as early as 2017, when he was confirmed as deputy secretary of defense. President Trump, who met with him earlier in the day, said he did not request that Shanahan withdraw.
President Donald Trump: “We have a great vetting process, but this is something that came up a little bit over the last short period of time. And as you know, Pat was acting, and so acting gives you much greater flexibility. A lot easier to do things.”
The Department of Defense has not had a permanent head since James Mattis resigned in December. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have urged for the position to be filled by a permanent head as soon as possible. Shanahan was never formally nominated by Trump. Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, will be replaced by Mark Esper, another former aerospace executive and top lobbyist for Raytheon.