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Washington (CNN)Gen. James Mattis' resignation triggered an outpouring of
anxiety and anger and a steady stream of kudos for the 68-year-old, but as the
shock of his departure begins to ebb, another narrative about the "warrior monk"
is emerging.

Even as Mattis is being hailed as a "national treasure" and praised for his moral
compass and "sound judgment," conversations with multiple US defense
officials reflect a frustration with the outgoing defense secretary.

Trump's acting secretary of defense will step into role with no foreign
policy, military experience

Trump's acting secretary of defense will step into role with no foreign policy,
military experience

While some of these frustrations are being overshadowed by President Donald


Trump's decision to push Mattis out of his post on January 1, two months earlier
than originally planned, these sources suggest that the general's tendency to
exert tight control may have contributed to the crisis surrounding Trump's
precipitous decision Wednesday to end the US military presence in Syria and
scale it back in Afghanistan.

Mattis resigned in disagreement over Trump's Syria decision, which will likely
empower Russia and Iran and leave Syrian Kurds -- staunch US allies -- at risk
from both ISIS and Turkey. The Associated Press, citing US and Turkish
officials, first reported that the President agreed to the withdrawal in a phone
call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week without consulting
his national security team or US allies.
At odds for months

Mattis' resignation capped an extended period of tension with the President,


though fundamental differences have long existed. Mattis is a 68-year-old who
has devoted his life to the military. Trump, meanwhile, is a 72-year-old who is
drawn to heroic military figures but repeatedly sidestepped the draft as a young
man and has yet to make the customary presidential visit to troops in overseas
combat zones.

Mattis quits, says his views aren't 'aligned' with Trump's

Mattis quits, says his views aren't 'aligned' with Trump's

Several administration officials tell CNN they believe that if, in fact, Mattis and
Trump had been at odds for months, the secretary had an obligation to leave far
earlier than he did. He waited too long to act and now, they say, the Kurds will
pay the price.

These officials argue that if Mattis had left after Trump dismissively referred to
him in an October interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" as "sort of a Democrat,"
there could have been another defense secretary in place who might have been
able to talk the President out of the troop drawdown.

"Writing a formal letter and presenting it to the boss personally was exactly the
right thing to do. It is very much in keeping with military custom.," said John
Kirby, CNN's military and diplomatic affairs analyst and a retired rear admiral.
But, he added, "Having that letter be so long and philosophical, reading almost
as a manifesto of sorts, and then aggressively pushing it out to media outlets
shortly after delivery came across as little more than a shot at redemption and a
chance to get ahead of Trump's spin."

But Mattis is the same person he has always been, the officials said, none of
whom are Trump supporters. They portray the secretary as driven by his own
views and determination to stay on the job while trying to keep from angering
Trump, and they add that the very public orchestration of his departure is not
going down well in some military circles.

CNN has reached out to the Pentagon for comment.

Trump told Turkey's Erdogan in Dec. 14 call about Syria, 'it's


all yours. We are done'
Trump told Turkey's Erdogan in Dec. 14 call about Syria, 'it's all yours. We are
done'

A US defense official said Trump has pushed a bold agenda, which Mattis
helped shape. He convinced Trump to launch a new Afghanistan and South
Asia strategy calling for increased troop levels and more military autonomy,
helped bring together a coalition to defeat ISIS, and was the first in the
administration to call for increased defense spending by NATO members, the
official said.

"The President was the only one elected and must execute his agenda. To do
that, he needs people who share his point of view. When the secretary
determined he was no longer well aligned with the President, he rendered his
resignation," according to a US defense official. "There is a long list of former
and current administration officials, lawmakers and others who try and have
tried to convince the President to make different decisions, but President Trump
is his own man. And so is Jim Mattis."

The Defense Department has posted Mattis' resignation letter on Facebook and
on its website. Some see this as a disrespectful dig at the President. And
multiple defense officials are eagerly backgrounding reporters, saying more
officials will also resign although no Defense Department personnel have so far
done so.

Indeed, a military official who regularly talks to Mattis called his letter "a dog
whistle" to anyone in uniform but particularly for the general officer corps,
which should consider it a signal to resign if they also have issues with Trump's
policies.

US envoy in ISIS fight, Brett McGurk, resigns over US withdrawal from Syria

US envoy in ISIS fight, Brett McGurk, resigns over US withdrawal from Syria

While there's no sign at this point of any officer resignations, Brett McGurk --
the American envoy to the coalition to fight ISIS -- also resigned on Friday over
Trump's decision to pull US forces out of Syria.

One defense official pointed to an essential part of Mattis' departure, saying the
secretary's exit might be a relief for some.
Mattis restricted access to information and put a chill on members of the
military services talking publicly. Some might be relieved to see him go if they
are now freer to push publicly for their agendas, the official said.

Mattis also discouraged senior officers from interacting directly with the
President, worried that Trump might suddenly issue them orders -- senior
officers would have had no option but to do as Trump wished, according to a
defense official.

Running out of steam

Senior battlefield commanders who have had a chance to meet with the
President have been dismayed that he had no questions for them and showed a
lack of interest, CNN can confirm.

Mattis' own strategy for dealing with Trump eventually ran out of runway. He
avoided speaking publicly for fear of getting crosswise with Trump or being
seen in contradiction. He also tried delaying tactics on issues such as the Syria
withdrawal, which had been on the table all year.

Stephen Miller defends Trump's Syria withdrawal: 'Are we


supposed to stay in Syria for generation after generation spilling American
blood?'

Stephen Miller defends Trump's Syria withdrawal: 'Are we supposed to stay in


Syria for generation after generation spilling American blood?'

Following Mattis' tenure, officials speculate that Trump is unlikely to turn to


another retired general to become the next secretary of defense.

Two names that been thrown about to be the next defense secretary are Mark
Esper, the Army secretary, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan,
who has already been appointed as acting secretary.

It remains to be seen whether they fare any better than Mattis.

45

CONGRESS

SUPREME COURT

2018 ELECTION RESULTS


Search »

Trump's acting secretary of defense will step into role with no foreign policy,
military experience

CNN Digital Expansion 2018 Veronica Stracqualursi

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Updated 9:10 PM ET, Mon December 24, 2018

Trump forcing Mattis out by New Year's Day

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on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. Trump plans to withdraw the U.S. from a treaty
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to American consumers, another escalation of his economic confrontation of
Beijing. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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US President Donald Trump speaks as Defense Secretary James Mattis (L)


looks on during a meeting with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of
the White House on October 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN
(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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US President Donald Trump speaks as Defense Secretary James Mattis (L)


looks on during a meeting with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of
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(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump forcing Mattis out by New Year's Day

President Donald Trump listens during a signing ceremony for the "First
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Office of the White House, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in Washington. (AP
Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump tweets 'poor me' as shutdown continues

BRIDGETON, MO - OCTOBER 31: Senator Claire McCaskill speaks to


supporters at a "get out the vote" rally she held with former Vice
President Joe Biden on October 31, 2018 in Bridgeton, Missouri. McCaskill is
in a tight race with her Republican challenger Missouri Attorney General Josh
Hawley. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

McCaskill: Some GOP senators call Trump 'nuts'

Paul: We could get $5B for wall if we did this


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Bob Corker Trump Khashoggi unamerican crn vpx_00000000.jpg

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fight in syria ISIS

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Lemon Panel

Lemon stumps panel with shutdown question

Former defense secretaries: Trump's unfit

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB),


listens during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, and
workers in the Oval Office of the White House during a "Cutting the Red
Tape, Unleashing Economic Freedom" event in Washington, D.C, U.S.,
on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. Trump plans to withdraw the U.S. from a treaty
that gives Chinese companies discounted shipping rates for small packages sent
to American consumers, another escalation of his economic confrontation of
Beijing. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mulvaney in 2015: Trump's views on wall 'simplistic'


US President Donald Trump speaks as Defense Secretary James Mattis (L)
looks on during a meeting with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of
the White House on October 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN
(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Mattis rebukes Trump in resignation letter

Smerconish: Trump's biggest threat isn't Mueller

US President Donald Trump speaks as Defense Secretary James Mattis (L)


looks on during a meeting with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of
the White House on October 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN
(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump forcing Mattis out by New Year's Day

President Donald Trump listens during a signing ceremony for the "First
Step Act" and "Juvenile Justice Reform Act," in the Oval
Office of the White House, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in Washington. (AP
Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump tweets 'poor me' as shutdown continues

BRIDGETON, MO - OCTOBER 31: Senator Claire McCaskill speaks to


supporters at a "get out the vote" rally she held with former Vice
President Joe Biden on October 31, 2018 in Bridgeton, Missouri. McCaskill is
in a tight race with her Republican challenger Missouri Attorney General Josh
Hawley. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Bob Corker Trump Khashoggi unamerican crn vpx_00000000.jpg

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fight in syria ISIS

Allies fear US pullout in Syria emboldens ISIS

Washington (CNN)With Defense Secretary James Mattis on his way out two
months earlier than planned, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will
take the reins of the government's largest and most complex agency with no
military and foreign policy experience.

Shanahan will lead the Pentagon on an interim basis until President Donald
Trump names a nominee to be his new defense secretary. Shanahan will be
charged with carrying out the President's orders of withdrawing US troops from
Syria, and possibly Afghanistan. A defense official confirmed to CNN Monday
that Shanahan has canceled his holiday travel and is heading back to
Washington.

Patrick M. Shanahan, Deputy Secretary of Defense, poses for his official


portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, July
19, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King/Released)

Patrick M. Shanahan, Deputy Secretary of Defense, poses for his official


portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, July
19, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King/Released)

A former corporate executive, Shanahan's portfolio at the Department of


Defense has been narrow with no experience in international affairs or with
counterterrorism.

Past Pentagon chiefs have served in the role without prior military service, with
Ashton Carter -- President Barack Obama's last secretary of defense -- as the
most recent example.

RELATED: Trump to oust Mattis two months early, announces new acting
secretary of defense
For the 17 months, Shanahan was Mattis' No. 2 in the Pentagon. Shanahan
almost exclusively handled internal reform, budget issues and the Space Force,
the new military branch proposed by Trump.

A senior administration official told reporters on Sunday that Shanahan had


been essentially "running the building" while Mattis focused on policy and
outreach to military and allies.

"There is probably nobody who knows the inner workings of the Pentagon more
than Pat," the official said.

Shanahan was confirmed last year by the Senate in a 92-7 vote, but his
confirmation process was not without hiccups.

After the shock of Mattis' resignation, some see a different narrative

After the shock of Mattis' resignation, some see a different narrative

The late Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain took issue with Shanahan's answer on
a foreign policy question and threatened to block his nomination.

McCain said during the June 2017 hearing that he was disturbed by Shanahan's
written answer in a questionnaire submitted to the committee about providing
weapons to Ukraine.

In his written answer, Shanahan had said it was an issue he'd "plan to look at
closely if I am confirmed" because he did not have access to classified
information.

"It's not satisfactory. Mr. Shanahan," the former chairman of the Senate Armed
Services committee said at the hearing, adding later, "Your response to that
question was, frankly, very disappointing to me."

Shanahan would go on to say that he supported equipping Ukraine with


defensive weaponry, but McCain warned him: "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."

McCain also raised concerns over Shanahan's background as a former Boeing


executive.
"I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the
henhouse," McCain said, worrying about someone employed at one of the "big
five" defense contractors taking on a leadership role at the Pentagon.

Shanahan first joined Boeing in 1986 and worked for the major defense
contractor for more than three decades before joining the Defense Department.

Trump rants while 'all alone' in White House on Christmas Eve

Trump rants while 'all alone' in White House on Christmas Eve

More recently, he was Boeing's senior vice president of supply chain and
operations and his experience laid largely on the commercial side of the
company. Dubbed "Mr. Fix-It" within the company, Shanahan was credited
with turning around some of Boeing's trouble-prone programs, including the
787 Dreamliner.

Shanahan has recused himself from all Boeing issues and in his ethics
agreement said he planned to divest from his Boeing-related financial interests.

He also was the vice president and general manager of two of the company's
defense divisions, Boeing Missile Defense Systems and Rotorcraft Systems.

A Washington state native, Shanahan received his undergraduate degree in


mechanical engineering from the University of Washington. He also holds two
higher degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Shanahan has three children and his late father was an Army veteran who
served in Vietnam.

During his hearing, Shanahan credited his father with instilling in him "service
before self."

CNN's Barbara Starr, Ryan Browne, Elise Labott, Jeremy Herb, Zachary Cohen,
and Eli Watkins contributed to this report.

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Even as Mattis is being hailed as a 'national treasure,' conversations with


multiple US defense officials reflect a frustration with the outgoing defense
secretary

Carl Bernstein on Mattis' resignation

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Judge orders North Korea to pay Warmbier family $500 million for wrongful
death
CNN Digital Rebranding 2015 David Shortell Photo: Jeremy Freeman

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Updated 5:56 PM ET, Mon December 24, 2018

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Rescuers look for survivors along the coast in South Lampung on South
Sumatra on December 23, 2018, after the area was hit by a tsunami on
December 22 following an eruption of the Anak Krakatoa volcano. - A volcano-
triggered tsunami has left at least 222 people dead and hundreds more injured
after slamming without warning into beaches around Indonesia's Sunda
Strait, officials said on December 23, voicing fears that the toll would rise
further. (Photo by Ferdi Awed / AFP) (Photo credit should read FERDI
AWED/AFP/Getty Images)

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Washington (CNN)A federal judge in Washington awarded the parents of Otto


Warmbier more than half a billion dollars in a wrongful death suit against the
North Korean government, which detained and allegedly tortured the college
student over 17 months before returning him to the US last year, where he died
days later.

In an opinion issued on Christmas Eve, District Judge Beryl A. Howell quoted


emotional lines of testimony from Warmbier's mother and recounted grim
details of his treatment in North Korea that underpinned the judgment.
"An American family, the Warmbiers, experienced North Korea's brutality first-
hand when North Korea seized their son to use as a pawn in that totalitarian
state's global shenanigans and face-off with the United States," Howell wrote.

RELATED: Otto Warmbier's parents 'stand up to evil' in suing North Korea for
his death

North Korean officials detained Warmbier in 2016 as he tried to leave the


country after spending five days there on a commercial tour. Warmbier, then a
student at the University of Virginia, was accused by the government of stealing
a political poster from a restricted floor in his hotel.

Warmbier returned to the United States in June of 2017 after negotiations led by
the Trump administration. Then 22 years old, Warmbier was blind and deaf and
had sustained severe brain damage from his time in detention. He died less than
a week later in his hometown of Cincinnati.

In a statement Monday, Fred and Cindy Warmbier thanked Howell and called
the decision a "significant step on our journey."

"We are thankful that the United States has a fair and open judicial system so
that the world can see that the Kim regime is legally and morally responsible for
Otto's death. We put ourselves and our family through the ordeal of a lawsuit
and public trial because we promised Otto that we will never rest until we have
justice for him," they said in the statement.

"As a family, mother, father, sister and brother, we would like to thank all those
who knew and loved Otto, and for all those who supported us and our mission
to hold Kim liable for his actions," they said, referring to North Korean leader
Kim Jong Un.

US to review North Korea travel ban, top diplomat says

US to review North Korea travel ban, top diplomat says

The damages awarded to the Warmbiers included $45 million for pain, suffering
and grief, and more than $6 million in economic losses that Otto Warmbier
would have earned in life based on his exceptional talent, according to an
economist's model.

Howell wrote in her opinion that the Warmbiers had established "ample
evidence" that the damages requested in their suit, which was brought under the
Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act in April, met statutory requirements because
they arose from "North Korea's barbaric mistreatment of Otto, including
'torture,' 'hostage taking,' and 'extrajudicial killing.' "

A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman denied that Warmbier had been
tortured while in North Korean custody, according to a 2017 report by the
country's state-run news agency KCNA.

Howell's ruling does not guarantee an immediate windfall for the Warmbiers,
however.

North Korea did not respond to the lawsuit -- Howell's opinion was rendered as
a so-called "default judgment" -- and the country has no free assets in the US
that the family could make a claim for.

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Any damages eventually won by the Warmbiers would likely come from North
Korea's frozen US assets, which amounted to about $63 million in 2017,
according to the Treasury Department's Terrorist Assets Report, and those
potential payments would be limited to the compensatory damages in Howell's
opinion -- a narrow portion of their larger award.

Requests for comment sent to North Korean officials in New York were not
answered.

Steven Perles, an attorney who has won billion-dollar Foreign Soverign


Immunities Act judgments for victims of terror attacks, said these cases are
brought not for the money, but for the "deterrent value."

"It's not about enriching the Warmbiers here. Nothing can bring their son back,
nothing can compensate them," Perles said. "But if they can really take money
away from the North Koreans, maybe the North Koreans or some other would-
be bad actor would think twice before doing this to somebody else. That's the
only reason you do this."

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A few hours after Howell's opinion was published, President Donald Trump
said Monday afternoon that he had been briefed by his team working on North
Korea and he was looking forward to a second summit with Kim. He made no
mention of the judgment.

"Christmas Eve briefing with my team working on North Korea -- Progress


being made. Looking forward to my next summit with Chairman Kim!" Trump
said on Twitter.

CNN's Anisa Husain, Elizabeth Joseph, Zachary Cohen and Katelyn Polantz
contributed to this report.

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Trump's acting secretary of defense will step into role with no foreign policy,
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CNN Digital Expansion 2018 Veronica Stracqualursi

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Updated 9:10 PM ET, Mon December 24, 2018


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Washington (CNN)With Defense Secretary James Mattis on his way out two
months earlier than planned, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will
take the reins of the government's largest and most complex agency with no
military and foreign policy experience.
Shanahan will lead the Pentagon on an interim basis until President Donald
Trump names a nominee to be his new defense secretary. Shanahan will be
charged with carrying out the President's orders of withdrawing US troops from
Syria, and possibly Afghanistan. A defense official confirmed to CNN Monday
that Shanahan has canceled his holiday travel and is heading back to
Washington.

Patrick M. Shanahan, Deputy Secretary of Defense, poses for his official


portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, July
19, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King/Released)

Patrick M. Shanahan, Deputy Secretary of Defense, poses for his official


portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, July
19, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King/Released)

A former corporate executive, Shanahan's portfolio at the Department of


Defense has been narrow with no experience in international affairs or with
counterterrorism.

Past Pentagon chiefs have served in the role without prior military service, with
Ashton Carter -- President Barack Obama's last secretary of defense -- as the
most recent example.

RELATED: Trump to oust Mattis two months early, announces new acting
secretary of defense

For the 17 months, Shanahan was Mattis' No. 2 in the Pentagon. Shanahan
almost exclusively handled internal reform, budget issues and the Space Force,
the new military branch proposed by Trump.

A senior administration official told reporters on Sunday that Shanahan had


been essentially "running the building" while Mattis focused on policy and
outreach to military and allies.

"There is probably nobody who knows the inner workings of the Pentagon more
than Pat," the official said.

Shanahan was confirmed last year by the Senate in a 92-7 vote, but his
confirmation process was not without hiccups.

After the shock of Mattis' resignation, some see a different narrative


After the shock of Mattis' resignation, some see a different narrative

The late Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain took issue with Shanahan's answer on
a foreign policy question and threatened to block his nomination.

McCain said during the June 2017 hearing that he was disturbed by Shanahan's
written answer in a questionnaire submitted to the committee about providing
weapons to Ukraine.

In his written answer, Shanahan had said it was an issue he'd "plan to look at
closely if I am confirmed" because he did not have access to classified
information.

"It's not satisfactory. Mr. Shanahan," the former chairman of the Senate Armed
Services committee said at the hearing, adding later, "Your response to that
question was, frankly, very disappointing to me."

Shanahan would go on to say that he supported equipping Ukraine with


defensive weaponry, but McCain warned him: "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."

McCain also raised concerns over Shanahan's background as a former Boeing


executive.

"I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the
henhouse," McCain said, worrying about someone employed at one of the "big
five" defense contractors taking on a leadership role at the Pentagon.

Shanahan first joined Boeing in 1986 and worked for the major defense
contractor for more than three decades before joining the Defense Department.

Trump rants while 'all alone' in White House on Christmas Eve

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More recently, he was Boeing's senior vice president of supply chain and
operations and his experience laid largely on the commercial side of the
company. Dubbed "Mr. Fix-It" within the company, Shanahan was credited
with turning around some of Boeing's trouble-prone programs, including the
787 Dreamliner.
Shanahan has recused himself from all Boeing issues and in his ethics
agreement said he planned to divest from his Boeing-related financial interests.

He also was the vice president and general manager of two of the company's
defense divisions, Boeing Missile Defense Systems and Rotorcraft Systems.

A Washington state native, Shanahan received his undergraduate degree in


mechanical engineering from the University of Washington. He also holds two
higher degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Shanahan has three children and his late father was an Army veteran who
served in Vietnam.

During his hearing, Shanahan credited his father with instilling in him "service
before self."

CNN's Barbara Starr, Ryan Browne, Elise Labott, Jeremy Herb, Zachary Cohen,
and Eli Watkins contributed to this report.

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Even as Mattis is being hailed as a 'national treasure,' conversations with


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