Patrick Shanahan: McCain Raised Ukraine Concerns

Patrick Shanahan

Getty Patrick Shanahan

Patrick Shanahan will assume the role of Acting Defense Secretary in the wake of the resignation of James Mattis, President Donald Trump has announced.

However, it wasn’t that long ago that now deceased U.S. Senator John McCain, a Republican, raised concerns about Shanahan’s selection as Deputy Defense Secretary – and those concerns involved the Ukraine. Shanahan appeared to address those concerns shortly thereafter, however.

“I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019,” Trump revealed on Twitter on December 23, 2018. “Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!”

But what were the concerns that McCain expressed about Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive?

Here’s what you need to know:

McCain Was Concerned When Shanahan Initially Declined to Firmly Support Arming The Ukraine

Patrick shanahan

GettyDeputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan waits to greet Acting Minister of National Defense of Afghanistan Lieutenant General Tariq Shah Bahrami during an honor cordon outside the Pentagon November 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.

John McCain’s concerns about Patrick Shanahan revolved – perhaps fittingly in this climate – around Russia. He was unhappy when Shanahan, in his confirmation hearing for the deputy position, declined initially to outright say he was OK with arming Ukraine in its battle with Russian separatists.

Here is the exchange, which occurred during Shanahan’s confirmation hearing, according to

McCain: “In your questions that were submitted to you, one of the questions was providing the Ukrainians with legal, lethal defense weaponry with which to defend themselves.”

McCain: “Inexplicably, you responded by saying you have to look at the issue. It’s not satisfactory, Mr. Shanahan. Not a good beginning. Do not do that again, Mr. Shanahan, or I will not take your name up for a vote before this committee. Am I perfectly clear?”

Shanahan: “Very clear.”

However, Shanahan then provided revised answers to a series of questions. Among them were some on the Ukraine. He wrote in support of “deterring further Russian aggression in the region. You can read it here. For example:

“Do you support continued U.S. security assistance to Ukraine and, if so, how would the provision of such security assistance fit within the broader U.S. strategy for stability within the region?

Yes, I support continued security assistance to Ukraine, including lethal defensive assistance. Security assistance should be one part of a larger whole-of-government approach for supporting Ukraine
and deterring further Russian aggression in the region.

Do you support providing lethal defensive security assistance to Ukraine as in the interest of the United States?

Yes. I support lethal defensive security assistance to Ukraine. The United States must do more to counter Russia’s aggressive behavior and support the people of Ukraine.”

According to Defense News, at the time of his selection as deputy defense secretary, Shanahan was working for Boeing. “Shanahan is currently senior vice president of supply chain operations for Boeing, Shanahan has also served as vice president for both Boeing Missile Defense Systems and the company’s rotorcraft division, giving him oversight on programs like the CH-47 Chinook and the AH-64D Apache,” the site reported at that time.

“Boeing is up for a number of major competitions and contracts in 2017, including a decision on the U.S. Air Force’s new T-X trainer aircraft and the ICBM replacement program.”

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