Shanahan has 'no concerns' over pre-nomination FBI background check

Shanahan downplays concerns about candidacy

By Barbara Starr, Zachary Cohen and Kristin Wilson, CNN
Martin H. Simon - Pool/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan

(CNN) - Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told CNN on Wednesday that he has "no concerns" about his pending FBI background check, which must be completed before his nomination can be sent to the Senate.

When asked if he had assurances from President Donald Trump that he is still his pick to lead the Defense Department, Shanahan said he is "in contact with the White House" and expects the process to be completed shortly.

"I'm in contact with the White House. We're done with our paperwork, expect to have the process completed here shortly," he said.

Trump announced his intention to nominate Shanahan on May 9 but the fact all the necessary paperwork needed to begin confirmation proceedings hasn't been filed has raised questions about his candidacy.

But Shanahan appeared to downplay those concerns on Wednesday.

"I can't tell you how long the process is supposed to work," Shanahan responded when asked why it is taking so long for his paperwork to be sent from the White House.

Still, Shanahan appears to already be reaching out to lawmakers ahead of his pending nomination hearing, telling CNN he called Arizona Republican Sen. Martha McSally on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe also stressed the need to get Shanahan confirmed and told CNN he spoke with Trump Tuesday morning to express a sense of urgency.

"I made it very clear" that "we have to get the name acting away from his title," the Oklahoma Republican said. "He can't be effective overseas if he is an acting Secretary of Defense."

Inhofe was asked if he thought there is any obstruction to Shanahan's confirmation, he simply replied: "No."

Inhofe also noted that the standard FBI investigation is still pending.

"They're not through yet with an FBI investigation. We're in the process of the FBI check right now. And you can't formally make the nomination. It's always — the nominations are all subject to FBI check, so it can't be formalized until that too, but that shouldn't be - he's been thru FBI check before," he said.

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