President Donald Trump on Friday offered a tepid assessment about Pat Shanahan’s chances of becoming the permanent defense secretary, saying, “We are going to see.”
Trump on Tuesday indicated Shanahan’s nomination was a done deal, even though it’s been more than a month since the White House announced on May 9 that Trump intended to nominate Shanahan for the job, and he has yet to make it official.
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“Well, I have, defense secretary. I have. It’s done. I put it out,” Trump said on Tuesday when asked why he hasn’t made the nomination official. “Yeah, it’s done from the standpoint of the nomination. Wait, wait, wait, Pat Shanahan was nominated two weeks ago. Yeah, no, I put it out, I put it out officially. Now he has to go through the process. He’s now going through.”
On Friday, Trump offered a less-than-full-throated endorsement when asked during an interview with “Fox & Friends” if Shanahan will get the formal nomination.
“He’s been recommended, now he has to be approved by Congress. We are going to see,” Trump said, adding again, “We are going to see, Pat Shanahan has been recommended for the job.”
NBC News reported on Tuesday that Trump appeared to be having second thoughts about Shanahan and that the president had asked several people about alternative candidates, citing four people familiar with the conversations.
Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, took over as acting defense secretary on Jan. 1, after former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned over Trump’s decision to pull all U.S. troops from Syria.
“Based upon his outstanding service to the Country and his demonstrated ability to lead, President Trump intends to nominate Patrick M. Shanahan to be the Secretary of Defense,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted on May 9. “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.”