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Acting Pentagon chief roils lawmakers: report

Senator Lindsey Graham declares Patrick Shanahan an 'adversary' during tense Syria briefing, NBC News reports

Michael Hernandez   | 20.02.2019
Acting Pentagon chief roils lawmakers: report Acting U.S Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan

Washington DC

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON

A heated briefing on Syria between Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and a group of lawmakers resulted in one key senator lambasting the top Pentagon official in an expletive-laden diatribe, according to a report published Wednesday.

The Syria briefing last weekend on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference resulted in Senator Lindsey Graham lashing out at Shanahan, calling him his "adversary," NBC News reported citing two officials in the briefing and three others who were familiar with the conversation.

It further drew the ire of the bipartisan group of lawmakers whom Shanahan was addressing, likely resulting in major pushback should U.S. President Donald Trump choose to nominate Shanahan to permanently lead the Pentagon.

An anonymous lawmaker told NBC that Shanahan "lost my confidence" during the briefing.

Shanahan assumed the helm at the Pentagon following former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' resignation. Mattis left the department after Trump abruptly announced he would be withdrawing 2,000 U.S. troops from northeastern Syria where they had been working to secure the defeat of Daesh.

The decision rattled close allies and drew stern rebukes from some of Trump's closest lawmakers, including Graham.

The weekend's briefing turned heated when Shanahan was pressed about the decision, with Graham infuriated by Shanahan's "talking-points approach" to questions about the policy shift.

Shanahan refused to condemn the decision to withdraw U.S. forces when questioned by Graham who then called the defense chief his "adversary."

Shanahan then retorted, asking Graham if he had any other questions "as an adversary."

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