President Trump intends to officially nominate Patrick Shanahan, who has been acting defense secretary since Feburary, to be defense secretary, after several months in the position in an acting capacity, following the departure of Defense Secretary James Mattis. Here's what to know about the new defense secretary:
Before he was named acting defense secretary, Shanahan, a longtime Boeing executive, served as deputy defense secretary.
Shanahan was vice president and general manager of the Boeing 757 program, and he also worked on the 737, 747, 767, 777, and 787 commercial airline programs. He was then vice president and general manager for Boeing Rotorcraft Systems in Philadelphia, where he responsible for all U.S. Army Aviation programs and site activities in Philadelphia and Mesa, Arizona.
His career at Boeing was a mix of military-related and commercial positions. He was vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, and next next served as senior vice president of Airplane Programs at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He became senior vice president of Supply Chain & Operations at Boeing in 2016.
Mr. Trump nominated Shanahan to become deputy defense secretary in March 2017, so that he could assist with the president's planned expansion of the military. Former Sen. John McCain threatened to block his nomination during confirmation hearings in June 2017, charging that Shanahan had ducked questions on whether he believed the U.S. should supply Ukraine with weapons to combat Russian aggression. Shanahan said he would have to look at the issue.
"You have been associated for the last I don't know how many years with one of the five corporations that provide 90 percent of the defensive weaponry, the weaponry to defend this nation," McCain said at the time. "And your answer was, 'Well, I'd have to look at the issue.' That's not good enough Mr. Shanahan."
Shanahan was confirmed despite McCain's reservations by a vote of 92-7 in July.
Shanahan's advancement to the post of acting defense secretary was met by some criticism by Democrats who claimed that his experience at Boeing meant he could be compromised in deals involving the company. Boeing landed $20 million in defense contracts after Shanahan was confirmed, the Daily Beast reported, but the Defense Department insisted that Shanahan had recused himself from matters involving the company.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, one of the few senators to oppose Shanahan's confirmation, told the Daily Beast that she believed "confirming a chief operating officer who would be forced to recuse himself from all matters relating to the department's second largest vendor was never a good idea."
The Defense Department Office of the Inspector General investigated allegations that Shanahan had promoted Boeing and disparaged its competitors. In April, the inspector general cleared Shanahan, finding that the allegations were not substantiated and that he had "fully complied with his ethics agreements and ethical obligations regarding Boeing and its competitors."
Shanahan and the wall
After Mr. Trump declared a national emergency to build a wall at the southern border, Shanahan told reporters on Feb. 16 that he had not yet decided how much money the Defense Department would redirect to the project. The White House said that Mr. Trump would obtain the funds with the $3.6 billion Congress had already allocated to military construction projects, and $2.5 billion would come from the Pentagon's drug interdiction program. However, Shanahan has suggested that number could be smaller.
"I will go in and review that analysis now that an emergency has been declared," Shanahan told reporters, according to the Associated Press. "Very deliberately, we have not made any decisions. We have identified the steps we would take to make those decisions."