Former Boeing exec is out as acting Pentagon chief after domestic dispute report from 2010 surfaces

Patrick Shanahan
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan speaks at an event presented by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Department of Defense Photo)

President Donald Trump announced in a tweet that former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan is leaving his post as acting defense secretary, hours after reports about a 1990 domestic dispute involving Shanahan and his ex-wife came to light.

Trump didn’t refer to those reports. He said Shanahan would not be going through with the Senate confirmation process to take on the top Pentagon post permanently, but would instead “devote more time with his family.”

Army Secretary Mark Esper will be named acting defense secretary in Shanahan’s stead, Trump tweeted:

The domestic dispute occurred while Shanahan was senior vice president of airplane programs at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, one of several executive posts he held during his 31-year tenure at Boeing.

As reported by USA Today, Seattle police were called to respond to a late-night incident at the Shanahan family home in August 2010. Shanahan and his then-wife, who now uses the name Kimberley Jordinson, accused each other of violent aggression. Shanahan had a black eye and a bloody nose, according to the police report obtained by USA Today.

Seattle police said Jordinson was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence and booked into King County Jail, but prosecutors dropped the charge due to lack of evidence. The couple subsequently divorced.

The 2010 dispute came to the FBI’s attention during a background investigation for Shanahan’s anticipated confirmation hearing.

Shanahan, who grew up in Seattle, was nominated and confirmed as deputy defense secretary in 2017. He led a Pentagon team that worked out the Trump administration’s plan for creating a Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military. When Defense Secretary James Mattis, a Washington state native, resigned at the end of 2018, Shanahan took over at the Pentagon in an acting capacity.

USA Today reported that Sen. Jack Reed of Nevada, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was concerned that the panel wasn’t fully aware of the 1990 domestic incident during Shanahan’s 2017 confirmation hearings — and that the issue should be addressed during the confirmation process for the permanent Pentagon post.

In a written statement provided to USA Today on Monday night, Shanahan said “it is unfortunate that such a painful and deeply personal family situation from long ago is being dredged up and painted in an incomplete and therefore misleading way as a result of this nomination process.”

We reached out to Boeing for comment, and received this emailed statement in reply: “Mr. Shanahan has addressed this issue and The Boeing Company has no comment on it. Any and all future inquiries should be addressed to Mr. Shanahan.”

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