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​Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan speaks to reporters during a flight from El Paso, Texas, after visiting the US-Mexico border on Feb. 23, 2019. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber Smith.

​The White House on Monday would not deny rumors that President Donald Trump plans to nominate Patrick Shanahan to be the permanent defense secretary.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, when asked about the possibility, said “I am not going to make any personnel announcements at this time,” but “I can tell you the president has a great deal of respect” for Shanahan. “He likes him,” she said.

Shanahan took over as acting defense secretary in late December after Trump fired former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, shortly after Mattis announced his intent to resign.

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, previously served as the undersecretary of defense under Mattis.

Sanders said Monday the president would make an announcement on the nomination when he is ready.