- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 14, 2019

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told lawmakers Thursday that he supports a full federal investigation into the Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliners, two of which have crashed in recent months and have been temporarily grounded in virtually every nation’s airspace.

Mr. Shanahan, who took over at the Pentagon on Jan. 1, previously worked as a top executive for Boeing for 30 years. He said Thursday he’s had no contact with his former employer about the incidents and has not been briefed — but he stressed that he believes a full investigation is necessary and appropriate.

“I’ve not spoken to anyone regarding the 737 Max,” Mr. Shanahan told the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he and other military officials answered questions Thursday about the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2020 budget.

“I firmly believe we should let the regulators investigate the incidents,” he added. “I would just say my heart goes out, my condolences to the families and the employees involved in the Lion Air incident and the Ethiopian Air incident.”

The deadly crash in Ethiopia last weekend came on the heels of a Lion Air Max 8 disaster in Indonesia in October. President Trump on Wednesday ordered the grounding of all Boeing 737s as investigators complete a full review.

Mr. Shanahan’s contact with Boeing since coming to the Pentagon has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks following news reports that he privately lobbied for the firm to get lucrative military contracts. On Wednesday, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington called on the Pentagon inspector general to investigate whether Mr. Shanahan has favored his former employer.

Mr. Shanahan told lawmakers he backs that investigation and will cooperate. Defense officials have said the acting secretary is following all appropriate ethics guidelines and has recused himself from matters directly involving Boeing.

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