Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan steps down

National News
Patrick Shanahan

FILE – In this Feb. 14, 2019 file photo, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks about the situation in the Persian Gulf region during a meeting with Portuguese Minister of National Defense Joao Cravinho, at the Pentagon. President Donald Trump announced on June 18 that Shanahan will not move forward with the confirmation process to be Defense Secretary. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan stepped down Tuesday before his formal nomination ever went to the Senate.

President Donald Trump announced Shanahan’s departure in a tweet, and said Army Secretary Mark Esper would be the new acting Pentagon chief.

Esper is an Army veteran who served in the first Iraq war and also has experience as a national security adviser on Capitol Hill as well as a defense industry lobbyist.

Shanahan’s withdrawal comes at a time of escalating tensions in the Middle East, a day after the U.S. authorized sending additional troops to the region, and after months of unexplained delays in the confirmation process.

In a statement, Shanahan said he asked to be withdrawn from the nomination process and would work on an “appropriate transition.”

The Pentagon, in a statement, said Esper will take over the job at midnight Sunday. Esper and Shanahan met at length Tuesday to begin transition planning.

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has been leading the Pentagon as acting secretary since the beginning of the year.

Esper was sworn in as Army secretary in November 2017 after seven-years as a lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon.

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