Trump denies considering Jim Webb as new Pentagon chief

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, January 5, 2019
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U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed a New York Times report that he is considering former Democratic Senator Jim Webb to be the next Pentagon chief, calling the story "fake news."

"I'm sure he is a fine man, but I don't know Jim, and never met him," Trump tweeted Friday afternoon. "Patrick Shanahan, who is Acting Secretary of Defense, is doing a great job!"

The Times reported earlier in the day that the White House is looking at Webb, who had also served as secretary of the Navy under former Republican President Ronald Reagan, as the new defense secretary of the Trump administration.

A former senator from Virginia, Webb, 72, is a war veteran and a critic of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as well as an Emmy Award winning journalist, a filmmaker, and the author of ten books.

Shanahan took over the Pentagon earlier this week as acting secretary of defense.

His predecessor, Jim Mattis, resigned last month over policy disagreements with Trump, including whether to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

A 68-year-old former Marine Corps general, Mattis had planned to leave at the end of this February but Trump named Shanahan as the acting Pentagon chief before Christmas, forcing Mattis out earlier.

Shanahan, 56, became deputy secretary of defense in July 2017.

The former longtime Boeing executive reportedly has strong relationships with both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence but is expected to face questions over his lack of foreign policy or government experience in his new role.

"Under the direction of President Trump, the Department of Defense remains focused on safeguarding our nation," Shanahan said in a statement on New Year's Day.

"As acting secretary of defense, I now look forward to working with President Trump to carry out his vision alongside strong leaders including the service secretaries, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the combatant commanders, and senior personnel in the Office of the Secretary of Defense," he added.

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