The White House on Thursday announced that it plans to nominate former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan to be the next Secretary of Defense, filling a role that’s been officially left vacant since President Donald Trump ignominiously ousted former Defense Secretary James Mattis this past December.
I say “officially” because Shanahan, who served as Mattis’ deputy, has actually been doing the job for the past five months, serving as one of the Trump administration’s many, many “acting” officials who have been given cabinet-level authority without having to go through a confirmation process for their pseudo-position.
Shanahan’s official nomination will come as the Trump administration—animated largely by its national security adviser John Bolton—increases its saber-rattling over the possibility of armed conflicts with both Venezuela and Iran.
Last month an Inspector General’s investigation into Shanahan found that he did not improperly steer Pentagon dollars to his former company—one of the concerns that could have posed a serious risk to any potential future cabinet nomination.
Nevertheless, Shanahan’s nomination follows the Trump administration’s broader arc of naming former corporate officials to head the departments they once engaged with while in the private sector. Still, after five months of essentially filling in as a temp worker, Patrick Shanahan can breathe a sigh of relief that finally the president is ready to offer him a real job. Congrats!