Shanahan takes reins at Pentagon

New year, new secretary.

Patrick Shanahan had his first full day as acting Defense secretary on Wednesday, and it was an eventful one.

He started the day with a meeting of top Pentagon officials, where, according to reports, he told them to remember “China, China, China.”

Later, Shanahan attended a Cabinet meeting at the White House where President Trump railed against his former boss.

Trump claimed he “essentially fired” former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who resigned last month after Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria.

Asked about the ongoing war in Afghanistan, Trump expressed disapproval with the U.S. performance there despite the hundreds of billions of dollars in additional funding appropriated for defense over the past two years.

“Gen. Mattis was so thrilled,” Trump said of the funding. “But what’s he done for me? How’s he done in Afghanistan? Not too good. Not too good. I’m not too happy with what he’s done in Afghanistan, and I shouldn’t be happy.”

“I wish him well. I hope he does well,” Trump added. “But as you know, President Obama fired him, and essentially so did I.”

Mattis was pushed out as commander of Central Command during the Obama administration over disagreements about Iran policy. Mattis resigned from the Trump administration, but Trump pushed him out two months early over anger at Mattis’ highly critical resignation letter. 

The Pentagon shuffle: With Mattis gone and Shanahan filling the acting secretary role, that leaves open Shanahan’s job as deputy Defense secretary.

The Pentagon announced Wednesday comptroller David Norquist will now serve as acting deputy Defense secretary.

“David Norquist has had insight into virtually every tenet of this department. I have the greatest confidence in his abilities to lead a phenomenally talented team while performing the duties as Deputy Secretary of Defense,” Shanahan said in a statement.

Norquist, the younger brother of anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, has had a long government career. His resume includes serving as a federal civil servant for the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command in the 1990s, working as a staffer on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, serving in the Pentagon’s comptroller office from 2002 to 2006 and working as the Department of Homeland Security’s first chief financial officer. 

Shanahan’s commitment: The Pentagon also said Wednesday that Shanahan is recusing himself from matters involving Boeing, his former employers of more than 30 years.

“Under his Ethics Agreement, Mr. Shanahan has recused himself for the duration of his service in the Department of Defense from participating in matters in which the Boeing Company is a party,” Shanahan spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Buccino said.

Shanahan previously committed to “not participate personally and substantially” in matters involving Boeing as part his confirmation as deputy Defense secretary.

H/T to The Hill

%d bloggers like this: