In a surprise announcement that prompted speculation about whether Shanahan himself knows this yet, President Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon that acting SecDef Patrick Shanahan was withdrawing his name from consideration to take the job on a full-time basis.
Instead, Trump will appoint Mark Thomas Esper, the Secretary of the Army, to become the first full-time successor to James Mattis, who left in December.
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who has done a wonderful job, has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
....I thank Pat for his outstanding service and will be naming Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, to be the new Acting Secretary of Defense. I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
Esper is an American politician and corporate executive who has been Secretary of the Army since 2017.
Prior to this, he served as vice president of government relations at Raytheon. Notably, the FBI is still in the middle of Shanahan's background check, and has reportedly been investigating violent disputes involving Shanahan and his wife and son that date back nine years.
Shanahan discussed these incidents in an interview with WaPo on Monday and Tuesday.
Shanahan spoke publicly about the incidents in interviews with The Washington Post on Monday and Tuesday.
"Bad things can happen to good families...and this is a tragedy, really," Shanahan said. Dredging up the episode publicly, he said, "will ruin my son’s life."
In November 2011, Shanahan rushed to defend his then 17-year-old son, William Shanahan, in the days after the teenager brutally beat his mother. The attack had left Shanahan’s ex-wife unconscious in a pool of blood, her skull fractured and with internal injuries that required surgery, according to court and police records.
Two weeks later, Shanahan sent his ex-wife’s brother a memo arguing that his son had acted in self-defense.
"Use of a baseball bat in self-defense will likely be viewed as an imbalance of force,” Shanahan wrote. "However, Will’s mother harassed him for nearly three hours before the incident."
Details of the incidents have started to emerge in media reports about his nomination, including a USA Today report Tuesday about the punching incident in 2010.
Specifically, Shanahan's wife was arrested after punching him in the face, and his son was arrested after a separate incident in which he hit his mother with a baseball bat.
Shanahan has said that the public disclosure of these incidents would re-traumatize his family.