WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said although he is pleased that Army Secretary Mark Esper will serve as acting secretary of defense, he would prefer that the Pentagon be led by someone who has been confirmed by the Senate.
“With regard to Mark Esper, we all know him. I think that’s a good choice for acting [secretary of defense]. I do think we’d be better off by far to have a secretary of defense that was actually confirmed by the Senate,” McConnell (R-Ky.) said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Little more than an hour before McConnell spoke, President Donald Trump tweeted that acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan had decided to withdraw his name from consideration for secretary. Trump said Shanahan withdrew so that he could “devote more time to his family.”
Shanahan assumed the position in January following the resignation of then-Secretary, Gen. James Mattis.
….I thank Pat for his outstanding service and will be naming Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, to be the new Acting Secretary of Defense. I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
Shananhan’s withdrawal follows reports of a 2010 domestic disturbance between he and his ex-wife, Kimberley Jordinson. Both parties reportedly told the police that the other was responsible for the assault. Jordinson was arrested and charged with domestic violence in connection with the incident. Shanahan has denied allegations of assault.
Esper has served as Army secretary since November 2017.