In a surprising move, Donald Trump let it be known that he had declined James Mattis’ offer to stay on as Secretary of Defense through February. As a result, he named Patrick Shanahan as Acting Secretary of Defense effective next week. However, if you base this news off the words of the late John McCain, it arrives with a great deal of concern.
Back in 2017 during Patrick Shanahan’s Senate confirmation hearings for Deputy Secretary of Defense, John McCain took to the microphone and questioned Shanahan over his relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, particularly in regards to his dealings with Ukraine.
According to the Washington Post: The late Arizona Republican, then the committee chairman, questioned how Shanahan would run day-to-day operations at the Pentagon despite his deep ties to the defense contractor Boeing, and then lit into him for something specific. In prepared answers to questions, Shanahan had said he would review whether the United States should send Ukraine weapons to defend itself against Russian-backed separatists. Shanahan amended his response to say that he would support the idea, but McCain still threatened to stop a vote on his confirmation.
“That’s not good enough, Mr. Shanahan,” McCain said. “I’m glad to hear you changed your opinion from what was submitted, but it’s still disturbing to me. It’s still disturbing to me after all these years that you would say that you would have to look at the issue. Have you not been aware of the issue? Have you not been aware of the actions of the Senate Armed Services Committee? Have you not been aware of the thousands of people that have been killed by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin?”
Regardless of how your political leaning or opinion of John McCain, this information raises questions as to why Donald Trump would even consider choosing Shanahan to be Deputy Secretary of Defense at the time, or much less, to be Acting Secretary of Defense now. His resume, which includes no prior experience serving in, or overseeing, the military in any capacity certainly doesn’t answer those questions either.
In fact, the only thing we have that are remotely close to answers at this point suggest Shanahan’s rise in the defense ranks appear to directly correlated to his willingness to appease Vladimir Putin’s interests. And considering Trump’s looming and inevitable trouble in the Trump-Russia scandal, a puppet in the Pentagon is exactly what he needs.