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Trump officially nominates Patrick Shanahan as defense secretary

President Trump plans to nominate Patrick Shanahan as the next secretary of defense, press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Thursday. Shanahan has been the acting defense chief since January.

"Based on his outstanding service to the Country and his demonstrated ability to lead, President Trump intends to nominate Patrick M. Shanahan to be Secretary of Defense," Sanders said. "Acting Secretary 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 took over as acting secretary following the resignation of James Mattis, who resigned at the end of December due to disagreements with Mr. Trump over pulling American forces from Syria.

As a former Boeing executive, Shanahan has faced some scrutiny from Democrats who say he is biased towards his former company. The Defense Department Office of Inspector General announced in March that it would investigate whether Shanahan used his position improperly to benefit Boeing, but Shanahan was cleared in April.

Speaking to reporters, Shanahan said that he was "very excited" to be formally nominated.

"I called my mom. She was super happy," Shanahan said.