Former acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan stepped down on Tuesday from his role amid increased reports of domestic abuse between him and his ex-wife.

Shanahan, who is to be replaced by former Army Secretary Mark Esper, removed his name from consideration for the permanent Pentagon post on Tuesday, tweeted President Donald Trump. While the tweet stated that Shanahan wanted to “devote more time to his family,” many believe that the increased number of reports detailing violent fights between Shanahan’s family were the real cause of his departure.

Shortly before the president’s tweet was posted, USA Today reported that as part of their background check, the FBI had been investigating Shanahan over a 2010 incident of domestic violence between him and his ex-wife, Kimberley Jordinson. According to the paper, Shanahan was being looked into due to an altercation with Jordinson which ended in physical violence. Both sides claimed that the other had been the antagonist, and in the end Shanahan’s wife was charged, although the charges were later dropped.

Minutes after the USA Today piece went out, the Washington Post released an article in which Shanahan confirmed a series of abusive incidents within his family. One of the incidents which he talked about was when his son took a baseball bat and attacked his mother, leaving her lying in a pool of blood with a fractured skull and internal bleeding. Shanahan said that after the incident, which was not mentioned to any relevant committees, he originally defended his son’s actions, claiming that the attack was in self-defense. In his interview with the Post, he said that he regretted his previous decision, and admitted that his son’s actions were clearly not proportional self-defense. Shanahan also gave increased credibility to the idea that the abuse scandal was the root of his departure when he told interviewers that he was concerned his history would be “a distraction” for the Defense Department and for the president, forcing them to spend valuable political capital defending him.


Several senators said that they believed that the Trump administration had purposely withheld information about Shanahan’s domestic issues from officials during his nomination to acting Defense Secretary. White House staffers told Axios that they had been aware of the circumstances around Shanahan’s divorce for over a month, while Trump said he had only been informed of Shanahan’s violent past on Monday.

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