WASHINGTON — The Pentagon's watchdog agency on Thursday cleared Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan of wrongdoing in connection with allegations that he had used his official position to favor his former employer, Boeing Co.

The decision by the Defense Department inspector general appears to open the door for President Donald Trump to nominate Shanahan to succeed Jim Mattis as defense secretary.

Shanahan, who spent 31 years at Boeing, has been serving as the interim Pentagon chief since Jan. 1, after Mattis resigned. The allegations of bias toward Boeing stemmed from his 18 months as deputy defense secretary, beginning in July 2017.

Among the allegations investigated: That Shanahan had "boosted" Boeing in Pentagon meetings; that he made disparaging remarks about Boeing competitors; and that he "repeatedly dumped" on Lockheed Martin's F-35 aircraft.

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