Patrick Shanahan, the acting secretary of defense, will not proceed with his confirmation hearing to assume the position permanently, President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday. Trump wrote that Shanahan decided “not to go forward” with the process to allow him to spend more time with his family.
The president thanked Shanahan for what Trump called his “outstanding service” and announced that former Raytheon executive Mark Esper, the current secretary of the Army, would be nominated for the permanent position.
“I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job,” tweeted Trump.
The decision comes after reports the FBI was digging into a domestic dispute in 2010 between Shanahan and his then-wife Kimberly. The FBI was conducting a background investigation into him ahead of any possible confirmation hearing, USA Today reported.
In the incident, both Patrick and Kimberly reportedly told police they traded blows. But in a statement Monday to USA Today, Shanahan vehemently denied harming is former wife in any way and said he fully cooperated in the ensuing law enforcement investigation. He said it resulted in her being charged with attacking him, charges he eventually dropped in the interest of his family
Shanahan lamented that the incident had been “dredged up” and said his family’s story was not dissimilar to those many families face, particularly given the difficult challenges that come with “substance abuse and other emotional issues.”
“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,” wrote Shanahan.
Shanahan took over the job on New Year’s Day. Before that, he served as deputy secretary of defense.
Since joining the agency, Shanahan helped spearhead the development of several key policies and strategies involving missile defense, defense strategy, cyber strategy and nuclear posture. He has advocated for digital and tech advancements, leading efforts to upgrade cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and command, control and communication.
Shanahan holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and two advanced degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: a master of science degree in mechanical engineering, and an MBA.
As acting secretary, critics rebuked Shanahan for disrespecting Lockheed Martin over its handling of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, The New York Times reported. The aircraft is reportedly years behind schedule and already millions of dollars over budget.
The move comes as the U.S. faces increasing turmoil abroad, including heated tension with Iran over oil tanker attacks in the Persian Gulf.