President Donald Trump said Tuesday he did not fire acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan – after making the dramatic announcement he was pulling the nomination following revelations of years-old domestic violence claims of Shanahan and his former wife.
Trump announced Shanahan’s departure Tuesday afternoon after a series of reports on details of the domestic violence situation, but said the decision was Shanahan’s.
‘I did not ask him to withdraw,’ Trump told reporters at the White House before heading to a campaign rally in Orlando. ‘He said it’s a rough time because of what obviously happened,’ Trump said, summarizing a conversation with Shanahan.
‘I did not ask him to withdraw,’ President Trump said of ousted Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan
Mugshot of Kimberley Jordinson, former wife of Patrick Shanahan
Trump made the statement after new reports spelled out the details of a violent 2010 confrontation where police came to the Shanahan home after a booze-fueled fight that left Shanahan with a black eye and his former wife with blood on her forearm. She told police Shanahan had punched her in the stomach, which he denied. She was taken from the scene in Seattle and arrested, but the charges were later dropped.
One press report Tuesday revealed that Shanahan wrote a memo on behalf of his son William in a separate incident after the younger Shanahan hit his former wife with a baseball bat, fracturing her skull and leaving her in a pool of blood. Shanahan said he regrets his actions in the incident and didn’t know all the details at the time.
Trump also once again defended his administration’s process for selecting officials to oversee the nation’s most important administrative functions, months after domestic violence accusations forced the departure of White House staff secretary Rob Porter as first revealed by DailyMail.com.
‘We have a very good vetting process,’ the president said.
He said he only learned about the situation on Monday.
A senior administration official told CBS News the White House knew about the situation involving Shanahan’s son hitting his mom with a baseball bat but did not know about the domestic confrontation involving Shanahan and his then-wife.
‘I thank Pat for his outstanding service,’ wrote President Trump as he announced the departure of his acting Pentagon chief and announced a new successor
The president addressed the stunning departure of Shanahan as he and first lady Melania Trump left the White House to launch the Trump 2020 reelection campaign
‘I had heard about it yesterday for the first time. I didn’t know about it. I heard about it yesterday. It’s very unfortunate. Very unfortunate,’ Trump said.
However there were indications there were problems with the nomination as far back as Trump’s trip to Normandy 10 days ago.
NBC News reported Trump asked three people what they thought of Shanahan and asked for suggestions of alternative candidates.
‘Pat Shanahan, who is a wonderful person is, as you know, is going to take some time off for family matters. I want to thank him for his service. He’s a terrific person. It’s a difficult time for Pat,’ Trump said on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday.
‘He’s going to take time off for family service and working things out,’ Trump added.
That statement came hours after Trump announced Shanahan was out.
‘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 wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
‘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!’ the president wrote.
Trump’s tweet followed revelations that federal authorities are investigating a nine-year old domestic violence claim against Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, whose formal nomination to the post had been delayed for more than a month.
The accusation stems from an incident where Shanahan’s wife was charged following a drunken brawl that ended up on the sidewalk outside their family home – although the charges were later dropped.
Trump’s move leaves the Pentagon with yet another ‘acting’ head, as the nation continues to wage wars abroad amid new tensions with Iran.
Said Shanahan in a statement: ‘I would welcome the opportunity to be Secretary of Defense, but not at the expense of being a good father.’
‘After significant reflection, I have asked to be withdrawn from consideration for Secretary of Defense and will resign my position as Deputy Secretary of Defense. I will coordinate an appropriate transition plan to ensure that the men and women in harm’s way receive all the support they need to continue protecting our great nation, he wrote.
Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who has been serving in his position on an acting basis without Senate confirmation, got in a heated dispute with his former wife that turned violent, according to a police report and a prolonged divorce battle in court.
The alleged domestic violence took place in August, 2010, and ended up outside the then-couple’s Seattle home after police were called.
According to a police report on the incident, Patrick Shanahan was seated on a sidewalk outside the couple’s home and had a black eye and a bloody nose after the incident.
Kimberley ‘appeared to be intoxicated,’ according to the officer. When he asked her for a description of what happened that night, she repeatedly kept ‘referring to the past,’ according to the officer.
Trump announced Shanahan’s departure following revelations of an alleged domestic violence incident from 2010. No charges were filed
Shanahan said he ‘never laid a hand on’ his former wife, according to a statement
Kimberley Shanahan said Patrick Shanahan struck her ‘several times’ in the stomach, but the officer didn’t notice any visible marks. She was arrested and charged with domestic violence, after the officer determined she was the ‘primary aggressor,’ in part because she had blood stains on her forearm.
Patrick Shanahan told police his wife punched him in in the head while he was sleeping in bed. ‘I was seeing stars,’ he said.
The police report says Kimberley started throwing his clothes out the window, then undertook efforts to allegedly light them on fire by trying to unhook a propane tank from a barbecue.
Shanahan said he ‘never laid a hand on’ his former wife, USA Today reported.
The acting Pentagon chief told the paper the incident ‘is not dissimilar to those of the many families facing the difficult challenges that come when a loved one struggles with substance abuse and other emotional issues. 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.’
The move comes amid increased tensions in the Middle East. Here Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, center, and Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya, left, inspect an honor guard ahead of their meeting at the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Shanahan says he now regrets his initial memo citing mitigating circumstances for his son William’s baseball bat attack on his mother
Said Shanahan: ‘Though my marriage ended in sorrow and disappointment, I never laid a hand on my then-wife and cooperated fully in a thorough law enforcement investigation that resulted in her being charged with assault against me—charges which I had dropped in the interest of my family.
The incident played out through the couple’s lengthy divorce proceedings. Each acknowledged they had been drinking. Kimberley now goes by Kimberley Jordinson.
The delay in confirmation comes amid rising tensions in the Middle East, with the U.S. dispatching an additional 1,000 troops to the region amid attacks on oil tankers that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attributes to Iran, which is ramping up its uranium enrichment.
Shanahan’s replacement, Esper, spent years as an executive at major defense contractor Raytheon. He also attended West Point, got a doctorate in public policy, and served as a high level Senate aide. He served as an infantry officer and was awarded the bronze star.
Amid the lack of action through a formal Shanahan nomination, Senators were being told of delays in the background check, Yahoo News reported earlier Tuesday.
Police responded to a call at Shanahan’s home in August, 2010
Kimberley Shanahan told police her husband had punched her in the stomach, although she is the one who got arrested
A police report called Kimberley the ‘primary aggressor’
The couple’s son described Kimberley’s effort to get a propane tank, paper towels and a lighter
Patrick Shanahan wrote that he saw stars after his wife hit him
TRUMP’S HIGH-PROFILE DEPARTURE LOUNGE
Here are just some of the top officials who have left Trump’s administration and when
Inauguration Day was January 20
January 31: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates
February 13: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn
March 30: Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh
April 9: Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland
May 9: FBI Director James Comey
May 30: Communications Director Michael Dubke
July 21: Press Secretary Sean Spicer
July 28: Chief of Staff Reince Priebus
July 31: Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci
August 18: Chief Strategist Steve Bannon
August 25: National security aide Sebastian Gorka
September 1: Director of Oval Office Operations Keith Schiller
September 29: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price
December 8: Deputy National Security adviser Dina Powell
December 13: Communications director for the White House Office of Public Liaison Omarosa Manigault Newman
February 7: Staff Secretary Rob Porter
February 28: Communications Director Hope Hicks
March 6: Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn
March 12: Special assistant and personal aide to the president John McEntee
March 13: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
March 22: National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster
March 28: Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin
April 10: Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert
April 11: Deputy National Security Adviser Nadia Schadlow
April 12: Deputy National Security adviser Ricky Waddell
May 2: White House attorney Ty Cobb
June 5: Communications aide Kelly Sadler
July 5: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt
August 29: White House Counsel Don McGahn
October 9: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley
November 7: Attorney General Jeff Sessions
December 9: Chief of Staff John Kelly
December 15: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
December 20: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
March 8: Communications Director Bill Shine
April 8: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen
June 13: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders
June 18: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan
Trump elevated him after former Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned with a letter that provided a stunning rebuke.
‘My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held,’ Mattis wrote the president.
‘Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,’ he added.
He is just the latest official to depart the White House known for tumultuous turnover and vetting problems.
Last week, Trump announced that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was leaving.
The history of an alleged domestic violence incident, despite the complicated circumstances and the initial conclusion that he was his wife was primarily responsible, may have been untenable due to an earlier White House departure.
Former Staff Secretary Rob Porter, a key aide to Trump who controlled what paper made it to the president’s desk, left his position after DailyMail.com revealed that two ex-wives had accused him of domestic violence.
Porter denied the charges, which emerged during an FBI check into his background, but ended up leaving his position.
Watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, blasted Trump’s new acting Pentagon head.
‘In Patrick Shanahan, President Trump had an acting Secretary of Defense whose decisions were overshadowed by his previous senior position at Boeing. His successor will likewise risk being tainted by his previous work for a major defense contractor,’ the group wrote in a statement.
‘Esper joined the government following years as a top lobbyist for Raytheon. Already this week, Raytheon has won multiple government contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. While Esper may not have had sway over these types of deals as Secretary of the Army, as acting Secretary of Defense he will have potential influence over such deals, as well as over the controversial proposed merger of Raytheon and UTC to become the second largest defense company in the US. His ethics agreement—and his ability to follow it—will be something we will be watching closely,’ it said.
The company proposed the merger with UTC last month. Trump told CNBC he was a ‘little concerned’ the defense giant could harm competition.
The police reports and hundreds of pages of divorce proceedings had the potential to turn Shanahan’s required confirmation hearings into a spectacle.
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s own televised hearing featured accusations of underage drinking and accusations of sexual misconduct and misconduct that Kavanaugh forcefully denied.
There were other issues yet to be fully aired. In addition to the incident with his wife that resulted in Shanahan saying he saw stars and suffered a black eye, his son was arrested for allegedly hitting his mother with a baseball bat, the Washington Post reported.
Shanahan told the paper: ‘Bad things can happen to good families … and this is a tragedy, really.’ He said bringing up the incident ‘will ruin my son’s life.’
In a bizarre incident he now regrets, Shanahan wrote a letter defending his son, William Shanahan, in a vicious beating involving Patrick Shanahan’s ex wife.
The November 2011 attack knocked Kimberley unconscious and lying in a pool of blood, according to the Post, which cited court and police records and resulted in a fractured skull.
Shanahan now says he regrets writing the memo he sent to the brother of his ex wife.
‘Use of a baseball bat in self-defense will likely be viewed as an imbalance of force,’ Shanahan wrote hours after the incident. ‘However, Will’s mother harassed him for nearly three hours before the incident.’
Shanahan explained this week: ‘That document literally was, I sat down with [my son] right away, and being an engineer at an aerospace company, you write down what are all of the mitigating reasons something could have happened. You know, just what’s the list of things that could have happened?’
‘Quite frankly it’s difficult to relive that moment and the passage was difficult for me to read. I was wrong to write those three sentences,’ Shanahan told the paper.
‘I have never believed Will’s attack on his mother was an act of self-defense or justified. I don’t believe violence is appropriate ever, and certainly never any justification for attacking someone with a baseball bat.’
Shanahan explained his reasons for withdrawing in a statement that also mentioned hypersonic missiles and other policy issues.
‘It has been a deep honor and privilege to serve our country alongside the men and women of the Department of Defense,’ he wrote.
‘The confirmation process should focus on securing our nation against threats, readiness and the future of our military, and ensuring the highest quality care and support for service members and their families. After having been confirmed for Deputy Secretary less than two years ago, it is unfortunate that a painful and deeply personal family situation from long ago is being dredged up and painted in an incomplete and therefore misleading way in the course of this process. 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. Ultimately, their safety and well-being is my highest priority,’ he continued.
‘I would welcome the opportunity to be Secretary of Defense, but not at the expense of being a good father,’ said Shanahan.
‘After significant reflection, I have asked to be withdrawn from consideration for Secretary of Defense and will resign my position as Deputy Secretary of Defense. I will coordinate an appropriate transition plan to ensure that the men and women in harm’s way receive all the support they need to continue protecting our great nation,’ Shanahan concluded.
Senate Democrats immediately demanded an investigation of the circumstances of the nomination.
‘I feel that there was possibly a deliberate concealment here,’ said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, an Armed Services Committee member.
‘I think there ought to be an investigation by the [Inspector General of the Department of Defense,’ he told reporters. ‘There is absolutely no reason for the failure to disclose to the Armed Services Committee as a part of our process, that there was something in this nominee’s past, Patrick Shanahan’s past, that was deliberately concealed or mistakenly covered up. And there ought to be a complete investigation.’
‘Because the nominee could have revealed it himself,’ added Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a presidential candidate who was appearing alongside Blumenthal in the Senate.
Blumenthal added: ‘The nominee was under an obligation to reveal it himself and this is potential a violation of criminal law because lying to Armed Services committee, not to mention to the president if he failed to mention it,’ is a crime, he said.
Shanahan was optimistic when asked about the process last week.
‘I’m in contact with the White House, done with our paperwork. Expect to have the process completed here shortly,’ he told The Hill newspaper.
Trump told Fox and Friends in an interview Friday Shanahan had ‘been recommended, now he has to be approved by Congress. We are going to see.’
The president said: ‘We are going to see, Pat Shanahan has been recommended for the job.’
A Pentagon official even conducted a background briefing, telling a small group of reporters that Shanahan’s nomination process ‘did not get started as early as it could have, and that slowed things down,’ Defense News reported.
Shanahan was operating under a security clearance as acting secretary, and previously served as deputy secretary of defense, a Senate-confirmed post.