Patrick Shanahan: Trump's defence pick pulls out after family history of domestic violence surfaces

Lily Puckett

Donald Trump says acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan will not be moving forward with his confirmation process, just hours after reports of Shanahan’s family's history of domestic violence surfaced.

“Acting Secretary of Defence 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,” the president tweeted.

In a statement following the president's tweet, Shanahan confirmed that he asked to be withdrawn from the process.

The Washington Post and USA Today both published extensive accounts of violent incidents involving Mr Shanahan’s ex-wife, Kimberley, and older son, William, who were living in Sarasota, Florida in 2011, while Mr Shanahan lived in Seattle, Washington.

Shanahan has denied reports that he was violent with his wife, saying: “I never laid a hand on my then-wife and co-operated fully in a thorough law enforcement investigation that resulted in her being charged with assault against me—charges which I had dropped in the interest of my family."

Reports of a violent incident in which Shanahan's son William attacked his wife, and William's mother, Kimberley with a baseball bat were part of the divorce proceedings between Patrick and Kimberley.

“Our story is not dissimilar to those of the many families facing the difficult challenges that come when a loved one struggles with substance abuse and other emotional issues as is the case with my former-wife,” Mr Shanahan said of the incident. “I wish nothing but the best for her and regret that my children’s privacy has been violated and they are being forced to relive a tragic situation that we have worked so hard as a family to put behind us."

The Washington Post points out that no questions about domestic abuse were asked during the 2017 confirmation hearing for his previous position as deputy Secretary of Defence.

“I thank Pat for his outstanding service and will be naming Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, to be the new Acting Secretary of Defence," the president's tweets on the departure continued. "I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!”

Esper was the vice president for government relations at the Raytheon Company before being named Secretary of the Army in 2017, and previously served as national security advisor for Republican senator Bill Frist, when Frist was the senate majority leader.