U.S. President Donald Trump has announced that acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan is withdrawing his nomination to lead the Pentagon.
Shanahan 'has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family,' Trump tweeted on June 18.
The president wrote in a separate tweet that Army Secretary Mark Esper will be the new acting secretary.
He later told reporters that he would likely nominate Esper to be the next permanent defense secretary, which would make him the official successor to General Jim Mattis, who resigned at the start of 2019.
Trump also told reporters that he did not ask Shanahan to withdraw from consideration to be defense secretary.
The position atop the Pentagon has not been filled permanently since Mattis retired in January following policy differences with Trump.
Trump announced in May he would nominate Shanahan to the post but the formal nomination process in the Senate had been delayed.
Trump's announcement comes at a time of rising tensions in the Middle East.
Earlier in the day, USA Today reported that the FBI had been examining a 2010 dispute in which Shanahan and his then-wife accused each other of assault.
And minutes after Trump's announcement, The Washington Post published an interview with Shanahan in which he discussed a 2011 incident involving his then-teenage son allegedly hitting his mother with a baseball bat, fracturing her skull.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, and the BBC
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036