SINGAPORE — The Pentagon doesn't need to investigate a White House directive for the U.S. Navy to move the warship USS John S. McCain from view before President Donald Trump's recent trip to Japan, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Sunday.
The White House military office requested the Seventh Fleet to keep the warship “hidden from view,” Shanahan told reporters en route to South Korea. But the directive wasn't carried out, and “all ships remained in normal configuration during the visit,” he said.
“No, I am not planning any IG investigation,” Shanahan said when asked if the inspector-general would investigate. No investigation was needed “because there was nothing really carried out,” he said.
Trump said on Thursday that a “well-meaning” person appears to have made the request, but said he personally would not have done so. The ship carries the name of the late Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona who was critical of Trump at the time of his death last year, as well as his father and grandfather.
Shanahan also said he couldn't confirm a report from a South Korean newspaper last week that North Korea's top envoy for nuclear discussions with the U.S. had been executed after Trump's summit with leader Kim Jong Un abruptly ended without a deal.
Kim Hyok Chol, who led working-level negotiations for the February summit in Hanoi, was executed by firing squad after being charged with espionage after allegedly being co-opted by the U.S., the Chosun Ilbo newspaper said Friday, citing an unidentified source.
“First of all, I haven't seen or heard anything that confirms” the execution, Shanahan said, adding the U.S. needs to get some facts on what happened.
Shanahan, who plans to meet with South Korean officials on Monday, said it wasn't necessary to restart major military exercises with the longstanding U.S. ally.
“I am confident that we have the readiness that we are required to have,” he said.
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