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Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan's bid to become the Defense Department's next permanent chief has reportedly stalled due to an ethics investigation and rocky public appearances in recent weeks.
Politico reported Friday that Shanahan was still in consideration to become the Trump administration's next permanent Defense secretary, but noted that an investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general into whether he improperly promoted his former company, Boeing, during meetings had put the nomination on ice.
"The IG investigation has slowed the process down and there are quite a few of us who want to see the report before moving forward, including President Trump," a senior White House official told the news outlet. "He's paying close attention, as he has always done with those he's considering for top positions."
The White House did not comment for the report, and it did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill on Friday.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino told Politico that Shanahan "will continue to serve at the discretion of President Trump."
"He remains solely focused on leading the Department's operations, improving the lethality of our Nation's military, and ensuring the highest-quality care for our servicemembers and their Families," the spokesman added.
The Pentagon's watchdog announced Wednesday that it was opening an investigation into whether Shanahan violated ethics rules and promoted Boeing, his former employer, while working in government.
Boeing, for which Shanahan worked for 30 years, has also found itself at the center of a major controversy after its 737 MAX 8 fleet was grounded worldwide after the model was involved in its second fatal crash in just six months.
Also at issue for Shanahan, Politico reported, is an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, during which he failed to sufficiently push back against Democrats who attacked Trump's decision to allocate funding from military construction to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
GOP sources told Politico that Shanahan's prospects also suffered due to another rocky appearance at the Munich Security Conference last month. Trump was poised to nominate him after that conference and the hearing last week, sources said.
Senate Republicans now are reportedly privately worried about upcoming testimony from Shanahan before the House Armed Services Committee and its chairman, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.).
"Next week is going to go way worse," a Senate GOP source told Politico. "If Shanahan didn't do well in a Republican hearing, he's definitely not going to do well in a Democratic-dominated Adam Smith hearing."