President Donald Trump plans to nominate acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan to be the Pentagon’s permanent chief, the White House announced Thursday, ending months of uncertainty following the abrupt resignation of Jim Mattis.
The news came two weeks after the Pentagon’s inspector general cleared Shanahan of allegations that he had shown preferential treatment toward Boeing, where he was an executive until 2017.
But Shanahan’s nomination did not come immediately — or easily — even after the probe ended. In fact, Shanahan traveled to the White House twice during the past two weeks thinking the president would nominate him, only to return to the Pentagon empty-handed, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. On one of those occasions, Trump instead reamed out Shanahan over the Pentagon’s progress in building barriers on the Southern border.
In the end, though, Shanahan developed a rapport with the president, who used to simply refer to him as “the Boeing guy.” And despite misgivings about Shanahan among some people in the White House and on Capitol Hill — and Trump’s own frustrations — Trump pushed ahead with the nomination.