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Trump’s pick for Pentagon chief, Patrick Shanahan, stepped down

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President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that his pick to lead the Pentagon is pulling out and will not move forward with the confirmation process, a move that adds to turmoil after the unprecedented 5-month stretch the US military has gone through without a permanent secretary.

“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,” the president tweeted. “I thank Pat for his outstanding service.”

Trump said that he will be naming Mark Esper, the current secretary of the Army, as the new acting secretary of defense.

Trump announced his intent to nominate Shanahan in early May, but the confirmation process has been delayed by a FBI background check that was taking longer than normal.

The acting secretary’s withdrawal follows a report from POLITICO where critics cast Shanahan as an ineffective leader who has left the Pentagon a rudderless ship rife with indecision and a report from USA Today calling attention to FBI investigations into allegations of domestic violence involving his ex-wife, which could have complicated the nomination process.

Shanahan was critical of reports into his family life. “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,” he said in a statement, arguing that he never laid a hand on his ex-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.”

It is unclear to what degree these reports and the investigations affected Shanahan’s decision, but he did tell reporters that he was concerned that efforts to dig into his past could ruin his family’s life. The president has yet to name a new nominee.

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