Graham to support Defense pick he previously declared his 'adversary'

Graham to support Defense pick he previously declared his 'adversary'
© UPI Photo
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions MORE (R-S.C.) said on Thursday that he will support Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions Trump says he intends to nominate Esper to lead Pentagon MORE's nomination to be President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE's next Defense secretary, despite previously clashing with Shanahan over Syria. 
 
Graham said he viewed Shanahan, who has been serving as acting secretary since December, as a "logical choice" and that he expects to support him when his nomination comes to the Senate.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"He has demonstrated to me his detailed understanding that a strong, modern, and well-trained military is essential in a dangerous and complex world," Graham said. 
 
Graham added he hopes Shanahan, as the Pentagon chief, would "advocate for defense policies that lead from the front, not from behind. I also hope and expect he will make it clear to America’s adversaries that we mean what we say, and that our allies see us as a reliable partner." 
 
The White House's Thursday announcement comes as the Trump administration grapples with rising tensions in a number of high-profile hot spots around the globe. 
  
Graham reportedly clashed with Shanahan during a security conference in Munich earlier this year about the administration's decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria. Trump ultimately shifted away from that decision amid fierce backlash from Graham and other GOP senators. 
 
Graham, speaking to Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin in February, said that he told Shanahan that the Trump administration's plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria by the end of April was “the dumbest f---ing idea I’ve ever heard."
 
“Well, if the policy is going to be that we are leaving by April 30, I am now your adversary, not your friend,” Graham said he told Shanahan.
 
Shanahan, according to an NBC News report detailing the exchange, fired back at Graham to ask if he had any more questions "as an adversary."
 
Shanahan, if he's ultimately confirmed, would be the first Senate-approved Defense secretary since James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions Trump says he intends to nominate Esper to lead Pentagon Trump expected to nominate Esper as Defense chief MORE's departure from the role late last year. 
 
Mattis's decision to resign shook the Senate GOP caucus, with many lawmakers viewing Mattis as closer to their foreign policy views than Trump. Shanahan will likely face tough questions during his confirmation hearing about his ties to Boeing, where he was a former executive, and Trump's foreign policy and military strategy.