Shanahan: Request to move USS John McCain made directly to Seventh Fleet
Jun 03 2019
The Pentagon has told the White House to stop politicizing the military, amid a furor over a Trump administration order to have the Navy ship named for the late U.S. Sen.
Analysts and officials have expressed concern over how Trump's style - appearing before apolitical military audiences to deliver decidedly political messages and courting them as supporters - has broken with efforts to maintain separation between the military and politics.
"If Shanahan cares about politicization risks, he should feel very uncomfortable that he was not informed about this request before it went public", said Schulman, now a defense analyst at the Center for a New American Security.
Shanahan has said that he asked his chief-of-staff to look into how the request was made to the Navy, but that he is not asking for an independent audit from the Inspector General.
Shanahan, whereas on his solution to South Korea, also told reporters Sunday that he had spoken over the phone with McCain's widow, Cindy McCain, however declined to pronounce any main components.
The warship was commissioned in 1994 and originally named for the senator's father and grandfather, both Navy admirals named John Sidney McCain.
"Yeah, I'm not familiar with that, I wasn't really that heavily involved in the transition", Mulvaney said, but defended Trump anyway by saying "I'm not sure that Steve Bannon is the most reliable source for information about what was happening in the White House during that time". "That would give me an understanding on the next steps" to take.
Shanahan said Sunday "there's no room for politiciziing the military", which he also answered Friday when asked about the controversy.
"We think this is a minor issue that the media is trying to make into a larger matter", he said.
Shanahan's spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Joe Buccino, said the Pentagon had already lodged a protest at a White House meeting on Friday.
Some press reports said the White House directly contacted the US Seventh Fleet, which is responsible for naval operations throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans, rather than routing any request through the Pentagon, the normal practice.
The McCain incident has dogged Shanahan throughout his weeklong trip to Asia, even as he tried to deal with critical national security issues involving the eroding US relationship with China and the continuing threat from North Korea.
That an intervention by a senior commander was needed may have led Mr Shanahan to consider formal guidance to avoid political entanglements in the future. He said a tarpaulin that had been draped over the ship's name was removed, having been put there for maintenance reasons only.
The acting chief of staff said it would be "silly" if the staffer was sacked over the request.
Hosts aboard the USS New York asked Mr Trump Jr about the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The Navy confirmed Saturday there was a request to "minimize the visibility" of the U.S.S. John McCain and Mulvaney said it was likely somebody in the Department of Homeland Security or Secret Service asked as a favor to Trump. Last year, the navy added the late senator as a namesake to honour his memory.