Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan testifies during a House Armed Services Committee hearing, March 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. Shanahan was cleared by the Pentagon of violating ethics standards and favoring his former employer Boeing.
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April 25, 2019 9:44 AM EDT

(Bloomberg) — Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was cleared by a Pentagon watchdog of violating ethics standards and favoring his former employer, Boeing Co., according to a U.S. official.

The report by the Pentagon’s inspector general clears the path for President Donald Trump to consider nominating Shanahan — already the longest-serving acting defense secretary in history — to be his defense chief after Jim Mattis abruptly quit in December. Mattis stepped down in protest over Trump’s vow to draw down U.S. troops in Syria.

The U.S. official, who asked not to be identified before the report is made public, didn’t provide more details. Another official said the report, of about 40 pages, will be released Thursday. The Wall Street Journal reported the outcome of the probe earlier Thursday.

The Pentagon inspector general’s review was opened after Shanahan told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he’d welcome an inquiry over an assertion by an advocacy group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, that he’d shown bias toward Boeing, where he was an executive before joining the Trump administration.

The group’s complaint was based on reports by Politico and Bloomberg Government, citing sources that weren’t identified. Politico wrote that Shanahan criticized Lockheed Martin Corp.’s performance on its F-35 fighter and said that Boeing — his former company that lost the 2001 competition to build the plane — could have done a better job.

While Trump has praised Shanahan, he also passed up opportunities to endorse him for defense chief, including during trips together last month to a tank factory in Ohio and to the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

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