President Trump is expected to formally nominate Patrick M. Shanahan to be his permanent defense secretary as soon as next week, two administration officials tell Fox News. This, after an internal Pentagon investigation concluded that the acting defense secretary did not show any bias in favor of his former employer, aerospace giant Boeing.
Shanahan worked at Boeing for over 30 years before coming to the Pentagon as then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s deputy at the start of the Trump administration.
Shanahan’s nomination had been held up by the White House since the Pentagon inspector general opened an investigation into Shanahan’s conduct following a report in Politico days after taking over for Mattis alleging Shanahan called Boeing-rival Lockheed Martin’s advanced F-35 program “f—ed up” and said the company didn’t know how to run a defense program following years of cost overruns and delays to the fifth-generation fighter jet.
Shanahan has been serving as acting defense chief since the president forced Jim Mattis to leave the job early following his resignation in December.
Shanahan faces a potentially contentious confirmation hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate in order to assume the role as defense secretary.
President Trump found an early supporter and point man in Shanahan for the creation of a sixth branch of the military, the Space Force.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier, Shanahan spoke about his urgency in developing the new branch.
“We have a $19 trillion economy that runs on space. Our military runs on space. It is vitally important,” said Shanahan. “[The] Chinese and Russians are deploying capability to put our economy and our military at risk in the time of crisis.”
Asked for comment a spokesman for the acting defense secretary would not answer the question directly if Shanahan was expecting to be nominated next week.
"Acting Secretary Shanahan remains focused SOLELY on the Department, on our global military options, on our servicemembers, civilians, and their families," said Army Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino.
A defense official added Shanahan will be “ready for a confirmation hearing, should he be nominated.”
Jennifer Griffin, Kevin Corke and Chad Pergram contributed to this report