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Pentagon to White House: Stop Politicizing the Military

But a top Trump aide calls it 'much ado about nothing'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 2, 2019 3:00 PM CDT
Acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, left, arrives for the opening dinner of the 18th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue, an annual defense and security...   (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)
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(Newser) – 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 US Sen. John McCain hidden from view during President Donald Trump's recent visit to Japan, the AP reports. A senior Trump aide scoffed at the idea that anyone working for the White House might be punished, saying, "We think it's much ado about nothing." A US defense official said Patrick Shanahan, Trump's acting defense chief, is also considering sending out formal guidance to military units in order to avoid similar problems in the future. Shanahan confirmed details about a Navy email that said the White House military office wanted the USS John McCain kept "out of sight" when Trump was in Japan about a week ago.

The internal Navy email came to light last week, triggering a storm of outrage. Trump, who long feuded with McCain, has said he knew nothing about the request, but added that "somebody did it because they thought I didn't like him, OK? And they were well-meaning, I will say." Shanahan told reporters traveling with him to South Korea on Sunday that he is not planning to seek an investigation by the Pentagon's internal watchdog into the matter "because there was nothing carried out" by the Navy. He added that he still needs to gather more information about exactly what happened and what service members did. "How did the people receiving the information—how did they treat it," Shanahan said. "That would give me an understanding on the next steps" to take.

(Read more Pentagon stories.)

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