The Times, citing an unnamed official, said on Thursday that Vice President Mike Pence and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had reached out to Webb. A senior Pentagon official confirmed Webb’s name had been circulating at the White House, the Times reported.
“I’m sure he is a fine man, but I don’t know Jim, and never met him,” Trump said on Twitter. “Patrick Shanahan, who is Acting Secretary of Defense, is doing a great job!” he said.
Jim Mattis stepped down from his job as defense secretary on Tuesday and Trump said a day later he had essentially fired Mattis, a retired Marine general whose letter of resignation was seen as a sharp rebuke to the Republican president.
Mattis resigned after Trump’s surprise decisions to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria and half of the 14,000-strong contingent in Afghanistan.
The Times said Republican senators Tom Cotton and Lindsey Graham and former Republican Senator Jim Talent had also been mentioned as possible replacements for Mattis.