Trump says Jim Webb is not under consideration for Defense secretary

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report 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 ShanahanTrump waiting on watchdog findings for Pentagon head: report Overnight Defense: Trump to reverse North Korea sanctions imposed by Treasury | Move sparks confusion | White House says all ISIS territory in Syria retaken | US-backed forces report heavy fighting | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated 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 MulvaneyWhite House rejects Dem request for documents on Trump-Putin communications Consumer bureau chief reverses efforts to sideline advisory panels Mulvaney poised to become permanent White House chief of staff: report 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: Pentagon chief under investigation over Boeing ties | Trump uses visual aids to tout progress against ISIS | Pentagon, Amnesty International spar over civilian drone deaths Pentagon watchdog probing whether acting chief boosted Boeing Overnight Defense: Judge says Trump can't implement transgender policy | Trump floats admitting Brazil to NATO | Mattis returning to Stanford 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.”