Shanahan Steps Down as Acting Defense Secretary After Reports of FBI Investigation
President Donald Trump's pick to run the Pentagon has taken himself out of the running following media reports that near decade-old domestic disputes were holding up his FBI background checks.
Patrick Shanahan, the former Boeing executive Trump planned to nominate to replace Jim Mattis as defense secretary, "decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family," Trump tweeted on Tuesday.
The announcement follows a report from USA Today that the FBI was looking into a violent domestic dispute between Shanahan and his former wife during which both claimed they'd been punched by the other. While Shanahan said he "never laid a hand" on then-wife Kimberly Jordinson, according to the paper, she said she stands by her account.
In 2011, Shanahan also came to the defense of his son, who beat his mom – Shanahan's ex-wife – with a baseball bat. The incident left her "unconscious in a pool of blood, her skull fractured and with internal injuries that required surgery," the Washington Post reported.
At the time, Shanahan wrote in a memo to Jodinson's brother that his son had acted in self-defense, the Post reported. But, he told the paper, he doesn't believe violence is appropriate ever, and would never justify someone attacking another person with a baseball bat.
Shanahan was likely to face questions from lawmakers about the incidents, which were reportedly holding up his FBI background checks, during his Senate confirmation hearing. Having the family disputes aired publicly "will ruin my son's life," Shanahan told the paper.
The confirmation process should focus on national security, readiness and the future of the military, Shanahan said in a statement. Instead, Shanahan, who was confirmed to serve as deputy defense secretary more than two years ago, said a "deeply personal family situation from long ago is being dredged up and painted in an incomplete and therefore misleading way."
"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," Shanahan said. "Ultimately, their safety and well-being is my highest priority.
"I would welcome the opportunity to be Secretary of Defense," he added, "but not at the expense of being a good father."
The family disputes weren't the only controversy Shanahan has faced since becoming the longest-ever acting defense secretary earlier this year when Mattis stepped down in protest of Trump's policies. The Pentagon inspector general's office investigated claims that he used his position to promote Boeing, his former employer.