Gruesome Domestic Violence Details Emerge As Shanahan Pulls DOD Nomination

Tom Brenner/Getty Images North America

President Trump on Tuesday announced that Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has declined to move forward with the confirmation process to formally assume the role. At the same time, a new report was published outlining shocking details from episodes of domestic violence within Shanahan’s family.

Trump said he would name Army Secretary Mark Esper as the acting secretary.

Shanahan’s withdrawal is not completely unexpected, as Yahoo News reported Monday that his confirmation process was being hampered by a longer-than-usual FBI background check, which included a domestic violence episode that resulted in his ex-wife’s arrest.

He addressed that and some other grisly familial incidents with the Washington Post in a story published nearly simultaneously with Trump’s tweets.

In November 2011, Shanahan’s then-17-year-old son William beat his mother with a baseball bat, rendering her unconscious in a pool of her own blood. She sustained skull fractures and internal injuries so severe that they required surgery.

Per court records, William Shanahan unplugged the home phone so neither his mother nor younger brother could call 911. As he fled the scene, he allegedly gave his little brother a bottle of rubbing alcohol to “clean her up.” The younger brother ultimately called the police from a neighbor’s phone.

Shanahan took his son’s side at the time, saying that his ex-wife had “harassed him for nearly three hours before the incident.” He also got William Shanahan a hotel room and stayed there with him after he left the house.

Shanahan has said since that he didn’t realize how hurt his ex-wife was when he wrote down his defense of his son, intended for the teenager’s attorneys, though the memo was sent two weeks after the attack.

William Shanahan ultimately was sentenced to 18 months at a Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch and sentenced to four years’ probation, though the Post reports that both punishments were reduced.

“I have never believed Will’s attack on his mother was an act of self-defense or justified. I don’t believe violence is appropriate ever, and certainly never any justification for attacking someone with a baseball bat,” Shanahan told the Post on Monday.

Shanahan also addressed the event that ended in his wife’s arrest, claiming that she started punching him in the face while he tried to sleep and proceeded to attempt to light his possessions on fire before the police arrived and observed his injuries.

Even before the Shanahans’ family matters were made public, the ever-mercurial Trump seemed to be cooling on his defense secretary personally, reportedly asking around for alternate candidates while in Europe for D-Day ceremonies. Some people he asked offered up Esper as a backup.

Shanahan has had a bumpy road since the beginning, initially surviving a probe from the Pentagon to investigate if he used his office to promote Boeing, his former employer.

Shanahan addressed his withdrawal in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“After having been confirmed for Deputy Secretary less than two years ago, it is unfortunate that a painful and deeply personal family situation from long ago is being dredged up and painted in an incomplete and therefore misleading way in the course of this process,” he wrote. “I believe my continuing in the confirmation process would force my three children to relive a traumatic chapter in our family’s life and reopen wounds we have worked years to heal. Ultimately, their safety and well-being is my highest priority.”

“I would welcome the opportunity to be Secretary of Defense, but not at the expense of being a good father,” he concluded.

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