WASHINGTON-President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that Pat Shanahan has made a decision to end his bid to become the next defense secretary, after reports emerged of domestic violence during Shanahan's marriage.
Trump appointed Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, to acting secretary last December after James Mattis stepped down.
In this photo from November 2, 2017, Mark Esper testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing to be army secretary, in Washington.
Shanahan was nominated as Acting Secretary after the departure of Secretary Jim Mattis past year.
The Pentagon has announced another 1,000 troops are to be sent to the region, while United States officials say they would launch a war if necessary to stop Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons - something Tehran insists it is not doing.
The abrupt announcement came in a tweet from the president, who said Shanahan had done "a wonderful job" but would step aside to "devote more time to his family". "Ultimately, their safety and well-being is my highest priority".
Trump's announcement of Shanahan's decision came shortly after USA Today newspaper reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been examining a nine-year-old domestic dispute involving Shanahan and his then-wife as part of a background check for the job as Pentagon chief.
One senior administration official told CBS News the White House was aware of the incident involving Shanahan's son, but didn't know about the 2010 confrontation.
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The newspaper reported here that Shanahan said in a statement late on Monday that he "never laid a hand on" his former wife.
He previously worked as Mattis' deputy.
Shanahan begged off questions about the incident via a spokesperson.
Shanahan told The Washington Post, however, that he was withdrawing because he feared traumatizing his adult children over "dredging up" past incidents of domestic violence in his home, including in 2011, when his then-17-year-old son attacked his mother with a baseball bat and severely injured her.
The president added that the Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, will be the new acting secretary. "I would welcome the opportunity to be secretary of defense, but not at the expense of being a good father".
Mr. Shanahan, a former top executive at Boeing, was tapped by Mr. Trump for the job more than a month ago, but Senate leaders were still waiting Tuesday to receive the formal nomination paperwork.
"His Pentagon experience includes serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Negotiations Policy) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and earlier on the Army staff as a war planner". Prior to that, he was vice president of government relations at Raytheon, a major defense contractor that manufactures guided missiles and electronics. He took over as acting Pentagon chief on January 1 following the sudden resignation of James Mattis.