NPR: Trump To Nominate Patrick Shanahan As Defense Secretary

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan listens as President Trump speaks during a signing event for "Space Policy Directive 4" in the Oval Office of the White House in February. Evan Vucci/AP

May 9, 2019 4:06 PM ET
TOM BOWMAN

President Trump will nominate acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan as secretary of defense, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted Thursday.

“Acting Secretary Shanahan has proven over the last several months that he is beyond qualified to lead the Department of Defense, and he will continue to do an excellent job,” Sanders tweeted.

Shanahan, 56, spent virtually his entire adult life working at Boeing Co., where he helped shepherd the 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

He joined the Trump administration as deputy defense secretary in 2017. When Defense Secretary Jim Mattis abruptly resigned last year over Syria policy, Shanahan was immediately thrust into the top job.

“I spent the better part of 18 months, if you will, sitting in the right seat of the cockpit with Secretary Mattis in the left seat,” Shanahan said in January at his first — and so far only — meeting with the press in the Pentagon briefing room, appropriately using an aircraft metaphor when asked how he was doing in his new job.

“So most of the material, the subject matter and the interactions are with people and subjects that are very, very familiar,” he said.

Shanahan brings less government experience to the position than any defense secretary since the department’s creation in 1947, with the exception of Neil McElroy, who served on the White House Conference on Education during the Eisenhower administration after a career at Procter & Gamble.

A congressional aide told NPR that Shanahan, during an office visit earlier this year, seemed overwhelmed by his new job of acting secretary.

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Trump To Nominate Patrick Shanahan As Defense Secretary
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Trump To Nominate Patrick Shanahan As Defense Secretary
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President Trump will nominate acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan as secretary of defense, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted Thursday.