WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump denied Friday that he is considering tapping former Democratic Senator Jim Webb as Defense Secretary.
“I’m sure he is a fine man, but I don’t know Jim, and never met him,” Trump tweeted. “Patrick Shanahan, who is Acting Secretary of Defense, is doing a great job!”
The story in the New York Times regarding Jim Webb being considered as the next Secretary of Defense is FAKE NEWS. I’m sure he is a fine man, but I don’t know Jim, and never met him. Patrick Shanahan, who is Acting Secretary of Defense, is doing a great job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2019
The New York Times reported Thursday that Webb was in the running, citing three administration officials.
Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran, represented Virginia in the Senate from 2007-2013. He also served as Secretary of the Navy for one year during the Reagan administration.
In 2015, he unsuccessfully pursued the Democratic nomination for president but dropped out before the Iowa caucuses.
James Mattis announced his resignation as Defense Secretary late last month.
He was initially planning on staying at the Pentagon through the end of February in order to ensure a smooth transition, but Trump abruptly announced that he would be leaving at the end of the month.
The move came after Mattis’ resignation letter, which spelled-out stark differences between the president and the defense secretary’s views on the U.S. military, garnered scrutiny.
Trump said Wednesday that he had “essentially” fired the retired general.
Shanahan, a longtime Boeing executive and Mattis’ former Deputy, is now serving as acting Defense Secretary.