Trump says Jim Webb is not under consideration for Defense secretary

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE on Friday denied recent news reports that he is considering former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) to be his next Pentagon chief.

“The story in the New York Times regarding Jim Webb being considered as the next Secretary of Defense is FAKE NEWS. I’m sure he is a fine man, but I don’t know Jim, and never met him. Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary MORE, who is Acting Secretary of Defense, is doing a great job!” the president tweeted Friday.

The New York Times was the first to report that the White House was considering Webb, followed by other media outlets like Politico.

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The Times article said Vice President Pence and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyNew witness claims firsthand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes Trump files to dismiss lawsuit from Bolton aide on impeachment testimony OMB official to testify in impeachment probe if subpoenaed after others refused MORE had reached out to Webb, a former secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration. A senior Pentagon official also said Webb’s name had been circulating in the White House, according to the Times.

A Pentagon spokesperson told The Hill on Friday that the Department of Defense “continues to focus on the defense of our great nation.”

Former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court Former Mattis staffer: Trump 'shooting himself in the foot' on foreign policy MORE announced in a resignation letter submitted last month that he would resign at the end of February. However, Trump pushed him out two months earlier than planned following the release of the letter, which was implicitly critical of the president.

Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who became deputy Defense secretary in July 2017, is serving as acting secretary. Trump has said he is in no rush to find a permanent replacement and that Shanahan “could be there for a long time.”