'US President Donald Trump has dismissed reports that he is considering making former Democratic senator Jim Webb the new head of the Pentagon as "fake news," tweeting that Acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan "is doing a great job."
In a tweet on Friday, Trump lashed out at the New York Times, which had reported earlier that the commander-in-chief was considering the one-term Virginia senator and outspoken opponent of the Iraq war for the position of defense secretary.
"The story in the New York Times regarding Jim Webb being considered as the next Secretary of Defense is FAKE NEWS," Trump tweeted.
"I'm sure he is a fine man, but I don't know Jim, and never met him," Trump added, while praising Shanahan, the deputy secretary of defense and former aerospace executive with no military experience, who temporary replaced Jim Mattis after his December ouster.
The story in the New York Times regarding Jim Webb being considered as the next Secretary of Defense is FAKE NEWS. I’m sure he is a fine man, but I don’t know Jim, and never met him. Patrick Shanahan, who is Acting Secretary of Defense, is doing a great job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2019
The Times, a favorite target for the president's attacks on 'failing' mainstream media, reported on Thursday, citing three anonymous officials, that Vice-President Mike Pence and acting White House chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney had already sent people to negotiate with Webb.
Webb, a Vietnam war veteran, is known for his aversion to protracted US military campaigns in the Middle East and a hawkish stance on China. He served as assistance defense secretary under President Ronald Reagan. Webb also briefly ran in a Democratic primary ahead of the 2016 presidential elections, but quit the race after falling out with mainstream Democrats.'
Read more: 'Fake News!' Trump denies reports he's eyeing anti-war Democrat as new Pentagon chief