Shanahan officially departs Pentagon

Shanahan officially departs Pentagon
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Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanEsper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Defense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall MORE was applauded my members of the Pentagon on Friday as he left the building on one of his last days leading the Defense Department.

Mark Esper, the Army secretary who has been tapped to take over as acting Defense secretary starting Monday, was on hand to bid Shanahan farewell as he left on Friday.

“A hearty farewell to outgoing @ActingSecDef Pat Shanahan as he departs the Pentagon on his last day of work. We appreciate the extraordinary work he’s done while done serving as acting secretary of defense and deputy secretary of defense,” the department tweeted. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE announced Shanahan's abrupt withdrawal from the Pentagon on Tuesday, saying the defense head wanted to "devote more time to his family" and was removing himself from consideration to lead the Pentagon on a permanent basis.


“Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who has done a wonderful job, has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family,” Trump tweeted.

The message was posted shortly after the publication of multiple media reports describing past domestic violence incidents involving Shanahan’s family.

Shanahan, who has led the Defense Department in an acting capacity since January, said in a statement that going forward with the confirmation process “would force my three children to relive a traumatic chapter in our family’s life and reopen wounds we have worked years to heal.” 

Trump is expected to formally nominate Esper as Defense secretary, according to multiple media reports Friday. Esper, a former infantry officer and top executive at the defense contractor Raytheon, was confirmed by the Senate 89-6 in the fall of 2017.

The leadership change at the Defense Department comes amid growing tensions between Washington and Tehran following the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone this week.

Iran shot down the unmanned drone in what the Pentagon called an “unprovoked attack.” Tehran claimed the drone was flying over Iranian airspace, while American officials said the aircraft was in international airspace. 

Trump then tweeted Friday morning that the U.S. was “cocked and loaded” to carry out a retaliatory strike against Iran, but he said he called it off at the last minute on Thursday night upon learning there could be 150 casualties.