President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he was frustrated over the decision of Defense Secretary James Mattis to resign after the President suddenly decided to pull out the U.S. troops from Syria.
Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will be Mattis’s successor, serving as acting secretary as of January 1, 2019.
Late GOP Senator John McCain poked fun at the then-Boeing executive and almost blocked his confirmation.
The root of McCain’s concerns with the defense contractor executive were whether Shanahan supported offering Ukraine military assistance to help fight against Russian-backed separatists. McCain, who was then chairman of the committee, offered a stinging rebuke to Shanahan’s written answers on the matter that were provided to the committee prior to the hearing, Newsweek reported.
“I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the henhouse,” McCain told Shanahan. He suggested that placing an executive from one of the largest military defense contractors, a man with no prior military experience, in such a powerful Pentagon role could be damaging to the agency.
His written answers explained he planned to look at the matter “closely,” once confirmed because he would have access to classified information. The answer was “not satisfactory” for McCain. The GOP senator threatened to withhold a vote on Shanahan’s confirmation as deputy secretary of defense.
“The answers that you gave to the questions, whether intentionally or unintentionally, were almost condescending, and I’m not overjoyed that you came from one of the five corporations that receive 90 percent of the taxpayers’ dollars,” McCain scolded Shanahan.
McCain, a veteran and a prisoner of war survivor, wanted more Pentagon nominees from the Trump administration who were “totally objective, well-known and well-regarded.”