WASHINGTON – At a time when America is facing a potential military confrontation with Iran, an escalating trade war with China and a showdown with North Korea, you’d think President Donald Trump would want a permanent secretary of defense to oversee Pentagon plans.
But Patrick Shanahan is still cooling his heels as acting secretary, awaiting a formal nomination that was expected nearly two weeks ago, after Shanahan was cleared in a conflict-of-interest probe. The nomination sits and waits, and some prominent Trump supporters who back Shanahan are beginning to voice concerns.
Newt Gingrich, former House speaker and a Trump confidant, told me Tuesday he thinks Shanahan would be a “very” good defense secretary and added: “I hope the president will nominate Shanahan as quickly as possible. It will strengthen Shanahan’s hand in reforming the Pentagon bureaucracy.”
Jack Keane, a Trump adviser and retired Army general who could probably have had the Pentagon job himself if he’d wanted it, says he’s also mystified by the delay. Asked if Shanahan should be nominated, Keane said, “I definitely think so,” because it would boost his standing in dealing with allies and potential adversaries.