Shanahan says he's 'never favored' Boeing as acting Defense chief

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanPentagon watchdog clears acting Defense chief in ethics probe Overnight Defense: Trump claims border incident tied to drug smuggling | Threatens to send more armed troops | Claims contradict military's reports | Afghan war watchdog laments 'needless' classification Watchdog: Info on US progress in Afghanistan needlessly classified MORE, the former Boeing executive under investigation by the Pentagon’s watchdog over complaints he unfairly promoted his former company, said he has “never favored” the defense firm in his current role.

“I have never favored Boeing in my current job and I never will,” Shanahan said in an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier this week.

Shanahan went on to note that he has worked to “drive waste” out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, made by Boeing competitor Lockheed Martin, and that he will call out “underperformance.”

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“I know I’ve not made any decisions in favor of Boeing, and the work I’ve done is to drive waste out of the F-35 program so we can deliver the capability our men and women deserve, and at a savings the taxpayers expect,” Shanahan said in his first televised interview, which aired Monday evening.

The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General last month opened an investigation into whether Shanahan violated ethics rules and promoted his former employer Boeing while working in government.

The announcement came after an outside watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), requested such an investigation, filing a complaint that largely centers on the Pentagon’s decision to buy Boeing-made F-15Xs for the first time in years.

Several media outlets have also reported that Shanahan disparaged Lockheed in private conversations at the Pentagon, reportedly bashing its handling the F-35 fighter jet program, saying the plane is “f---ed up” and that the firm “doesn’t know how to run a program.”

The investigation has reportedly sidelined Shanahan's nomination from the White House to become permanent Defense secretary.

Shanahan worked for Boeing for 30 years before entering the Pentagon as deputy secretary in 2017 before becoming acting chief in January after the resignation of James MattisJames Norman MattisPentagon watchdog clears acting Defense chief in ethics probe New 2020 candidate Moulton on hypothetical Mars invasion: 'I would not build a wall' Trump learns to love acting officials MORE. Shanahan told lawmakers last month that he supports the investigation.

“This is a point I want to make very clear, I am not biased towards Boeing. I’m biased towards performance. I’m biased towards performance for the U.S. government, for the taxpayer and most importantly the warfighter,” Shanahan said.

“I’m an equal opportunity critic, if I see underperformance, I call it the way I see it.”

Shanahan also reiterated previously made comments that when he joined the administration he sold all Boeing stock he previously held, as well as “every interest in the defense sector.”

Asked if he believes the IG report has been politically motivated, he replied, “We’ll see.”