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Trump Nominates Patrick Shanahan To Secretary Of Defense

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Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will nominate Patrick Shanahan to be his second secretary of defense.

The former Boeing executive has been leading the Pentagon as acting secretary since Jan. 1, a highly unusual arrangement for arguably the most sensitive Cabinet position.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said “Shanahan has proven over the last several months that he is beyond qualified to lead the Department of Defense, and he will continue to do an excellent job.”

Shanahan, who is 56, has a depth of experience in the defense industry but little in government.

He replaced former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, a retired Marine general, who quit in December after clashing with Trump over the president’s call to withdraw American troops from Syria.

By nominating former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan to possibly permanently replace famed former Marine Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense, President Trump may have found a like-minded advocate for the U.S. weapons industry.

Shanahan is a controversial choice. During Shanahan’s two-year stint as Mattis’s deputy defense secretary, Boeing has landed a series of lucrative military contracts worth $20 billion, on top of the Chicago company’s previous deal to build aerial-refueling tankers and naval fighters for the Pentagon.

Mattis’ resignation on Thursday came one day after Trump announced, via Twitter, that the terror group known as Islamic State is no longer a threat and the United States will withdraw all 2,000 of its troops from Syria.

Trump reportedly made his decision to quit Syria during a Dec. 14 phone call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is eager to attack Kurdish groups in northern Syria who are strong allies of the United States. “You know what? It’s yours,” Trump reportedly said of Syria. He had a similar call with Erdogan on Sunday.

Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesperson for Shanahan, sent the following statement to the Daily Beast: “Mr. Shanahan is recused from any DoD decisions impacting Boeing, and the Department’s legal advisors have a screening process to ensure that Boeing-related issues are not routed to Mr. Shanahan. While the details of the Department’s FY2020 budget request remain pre-decisional, the screening process was in place throughout the budget review to ensure that any DoD programmatic decisions impacting Boeing were neither made nor influenced by Mr. Shanahan.”

Experts have warned that Islamic State is rebuilding in the Middle East. The Taliban likewise have gained strength in recent months. A U.S. pullout in Afghanistan could undermine peace talks with the Taliban. “I believe the Taliban will see this as a reason to stall,” said Bill Roggio, an Afghanistan analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.

In his resignation letter, Mattis rebuked Trump for his flippant treatment of America’s allies. “My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held,” Mattis wrote, adding that he would stay on until February to help with a smooth transition.

It’s unclear whether Shanahan would urge Trump to be more respectful of America’s alliances. But Shanahan’s statements on ISIS, during his confirmation, seem to contradict Trump’s own position.

“I would consider success in defeating ISIS to be when the threat the group poses has been degraded to a point where it is localized and periodic and when it can be addressed as a law-enforcement issue by partner nations and forces without extensive assistance from the United States,” Shanahan said.

But in Shanahan, he does have someone who is likely to share his interest in business. Trump has ordered diplomats to prioritize foreign sales of American-made arms. “Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing,” Trump tweeted. “He will be great!”

(Reporting by Associated Press and The Daily Beast)

Trump Administration

White House Wanted USS John S. McCain Obscured During Trump’s Japan Visit

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The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) steers towards the Changi Naval Base, Singapore, following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore in 2017. (Joshua Fulton/U.S. Navy/AP)

The White House asked Navy officials to obscure the USS John S. McCain while President Trump was visiting Japan, Pentagon and White House officials said Wednesday night.


A senior Navy official confirmed he was aware someone at the White House sent a message to service officials in the Pacific requesting that the USS John McCain be kept out of the picture while the president was there. That led to photographs taken Friday of a tarp obscuring the McCain name, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

When senior Navy officials grasped what was happening, they directed Navy personnel who were present to stop, the senior official said. The tarp was removed on Saturday, before Trump’s visit, he added.

The White House request was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The crew of the McCain also was not invited to Trump’s visit, which occurred on the USS Wasp. But a Navy official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it was because the crew was released from duty for the long holiday weekend, along with sailors from another ship, the USS Stethem.

A senior White House official also confirmed that they did not want the destroyer with the McCain name seen in photographs. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said the president was not involved in the planning, but the request was made to keep Trump from being upset during the visit.

Trump tweeted Wednesday night that he wasn’t involved.

“I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan. Nevertheless, @FLOTUS and I loved being with our great Military Men and Women – what a spectacular job they do!” he wrote.

The Journal reported that Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan knew of the White House’s concerns and approved military officials’ efforts to obscure it from view.

The U.S. Navy reportedly went to great lengths to shield Trump from seeing the ship. Officials told the Journal they first covered it with a tarp, then used a barge to block the name and gave the sailors on the ship the day off, the Journal reported. A Navy official told The Washington Post that the barge was moved before the event involving Trump.

Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Navy spokesman, said that images of the tarp covering the ship are from Friday, and it was taken down Saturday.

“All ships remained in normal configuration during the President’s visit,” he said in an email, challenging the suggestion that a barge was moved to block it.

The Navy’s one-star admiral in charge of public affairs, Rear Adm. Charles Brown, also tweeted Wednesday night: “The name of USS John S. McCain was not obscured during the POTUS visit to Yokosuka on Memorial Day. The Navy is proud of that ship, its crew, its namesake and its heritage.”

Before John McCain’s death in August 2018, the Navy added the senator’s name to the ship, already named the USS John McCain after his father and grandfather, both admirals. The ship is stationed in Japan, where it’s being repaired after a fatal crash in 2017.

Trump has continued to speak ill of the late senator in his public remarks and on social media. Meghan McCain, who is quick to come to her father’s defense, immediately blasted Trump on Twitter.

“Trump is a child who will always be deeply threatened by the greatness of my dads incredible life,” Meghan McCain tweeted. “There is a lot of criticism of how much I speak about my dad, but nine months since he passed, Trump won’t let him RIP. So I have to stand up for him. It makes my grief unbearable.”

Mark Salter, McCain’s long time speechwriter and co-author, tweeted, “Perhaps the late Senator’s Armed Services Committee colleagues will have questions about this for the acting SecDef, whose confirmation ought to be in jeopardy.”

Trump began attacking McCain during the presidential campaign when he said McCain wasn’t a war hero because he’d been captured. McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years.

The president also blames McCain for voting against a Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Trump often says the law would be gone if not for McCain, which isn’t true.

McCain did not want Trump at his funeral, but his presence was felt in the eulogies past presidents and friends gave. Meghan McCain offered the most direct rebuke of the current president, using his campaign slogan as a not-so-veiled dig.

“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great,” she said in her eulogy for her father.

(Reporting by Washington Post)

UPDATE: A confirmed email has been found by CNBC which purports to contradict what Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan claimed on Wednesday.

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Former Virginia Attorney General Joining Trump Administration

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Ken Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia, will be joining the Trump administration.


A White House official confirms Cuccinelli will be taking a position at the Homeland Security Department, focusing on immigration. The person spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement.

The Associated Press first reported last month Trump was considering bringing on Cuccinelli as an “immigration czar” to coordinate immigration policy across federal agencies. But the official said Cuccinelli will not be assuming that role.

The hire comes as Trump is struggling with a migrant surge at the southern border that is straining federal resources.

Cuccinelli has in the past advocated for denying citizenship to the American-born children of parents living in the U.S. illegally.

He didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment.

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White House Considering Derek Kan For Federal Reserve Board Seat

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The White House is considering Derek Kan, an undersecretary at the Department of Transportation, for one of two open seats on the Federal Reserve Board, according to two people familiar with the matter.


Kan, who has been a senior adviser to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao since 2017, has served on the board of directors for Amtrak and was previously general manager of ride-hailing company Lyft Inc. He earned his MBA from Stanford University and studied economic history at the London School of Economics, according to a profile on the Department of Transportation website.

President Donald Trump has struggled to find candidates for the Fed that are acceptable to the senators who vote to confirm them. Trump has named four people for the two open seats on the board of governors. None of them has made it through the Senate, raising questions about the White House vetting process for his picks.

The White House declined immediate comment.

(Reporting by Bloomberg News)

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