VA secretary David Shulkin out, Trump tweets

WH Dodges Questions On VA Secretary: No Announcements 'At This Time'

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he will replace his Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin with Admiral Ronny Jackson, who now serves as physician to the President.

I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Over the weekend, Trump reportedly told friends he planned to fire Shulkin, who is the only holdover from President Barack Obama's candidate, very soon.

What's befallen Shulkin is a favorite tactic of Trump's, who followed a similar approach with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and, to a lesser degree, national security adviser H.R. McMaster. The power struggle centered on differences over a shift to offering veterans more medical care from private doctors at taxpayer expense, with conservatives at VA and in the White House pushing for more private care and Shulkin favoring a more moderate approach.

On Monday, White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley looked to dismiss reports that the embattled Shulkin was on his way out.


Shulkins firing had been expected for weeks as the president, who once considered him a favorite grew disenchanted with him after a travel scandal and months of infighting within the senior ranks at the Department of Veterans Affairs spilled into public view. He was previously appointed by Obama as undersecretary for health at the VA in July of 2015.

The Trump appointees seized on the report and began agitating for his ouster.

Shulkin at one point was considered a darling of the cabinet, having been confirmed by the Senate in a 100-0 vote.

As the year went on, Shulkin grew increasingly isolated and at odds with top aides, including those in charge of VA communications efforts, was so wide that the secretary had recently been conducting his own crisis communications effort via his personal cell phone, telling reporters that there were political staffers working to oust him. That frustration reached the White House recently, with Trump reportedly floating the idea in private of replacing Shulkin with Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

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