ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT
By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan withdrew his consideration to be the permanent Pentagon chief.
"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 said on Twitter.
"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!" he added.
Prior to joining the Pentagon, Esper served as top lobbyist for the defense contractor, Raytheon.
Trump announced last month he would nominate Shanahan to continue his position.
However, reports surfaced last week that Trump was reconsidering his decision to nominate Shanahan for the top post at the Pentagon and had been asking others for recommendations for a replacement.
The announcement by Trump comes as further reports say that an FBI background check was delaying the nomination process. On Monday, Shanahan released a statement addressing a case of domestic violence between him and his former wife in 2010.
"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," Shanahan said in a statement to USA Today.
Shanahan denied ever hitting his wife, and no charges were brought against him.
He took his position when his predecessor James Mattis resigned in December because of disagreements with Trump, including his abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.
Shanahan, 56, served as Boeing's top supply chain executive prior to joining the Department of Defense in 2017 as deputy defense secretary.
Esper's rise to the top position in the Pentagon comes at a turbulent time, with the U.S. having withdrawn from many global commitments and embarked on ambitious projects, such as the denuclearization of North Korea. The U.S. has also increased its military presence along the border with Mexico and has reached new heights in its tensions with Iran.