WASHINGTON – The Pentagon inspector general cleared acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan of ethics violations, a move that could pave his path toward nomination by the White House to be a full member of President Donald Trump's Cabinet.
The investigation examined allegations that Shanahan disparaged Lockheed Martin, a competitor of the defense contractor Boeing, his previous employer, during official meetings. The inspector general interviewed 33 witnesses, reviewed thousands of pages of classified and unclassified documents and concluded Shanahan had not violated ethics rules. The results were released Thursday.
Referrals for the investigation came from several sources, including the office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and a member of the Armed Services Committee.
"The evidence showed that Acting Secretary Shanahan fully complied with his ethical obligations and ethical agreements with regard to Boeing and its competitors," Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine said in a statement.
The inspector general investigated one claim that Shanahan tried to force the Marine Corps commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, to buy Boeing F/A-18s and threatened to cut Air Force programs unless the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. David Goldfein, supported buying Boeing F-15Xs.
Investigators looked into claims that Shanahan "repeatedly dumped” on the Lockheed Martin's F-35 aircraft.
"We determined that Mr. Shanahan did not make the alleged comments and did not promote Boeing, or disparage its competitors," the investigation concluded.
Shanahan said the report's findings speak for themselves, said Army Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, his spokesman.
Shanahan, 56, replaced Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who retired last December after Trump announced his intent to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and slash the number of troops in Afghanistan. Shanahan was Mattis' deputy. Shanahan has served in an acting capacity since then.
A Washington state native, Shanahan holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and a master's degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
His nomination would require Senate confirmation.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan cleared of ethics violations related to Lockheed-Boeing discussions