Trump Fires VA Secretary, Nominates White House Doctor As Replacement
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin became the latest member of President Trump's cabinet to be terminated on Wednesday.
Mr. Trump announced that he was replacing Shulkin in a series of tweets, and said he would nominate Adm. Ronny Jackson, who had been serving as the president's doctor, to replace him.
....In the interim, Hon. Robert Wilkie of DOD will serve as Acting Secretary. I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin’s service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
Shulkin's departure follows a series of blunders for the secretary of the already embattled VA, including reported insurgencies inside his own department to complications surrounding his improper use of travel expenses.
After raising eyebrows for traveling to Europe last summer with his wife on the VA's dime, Shulkin faced numerous calls on Capitol Hill for his ouster. He was is one of five Trump cabinet officials whose travel practices were scrutinized by internal watchdogs.
In a 97-page report released last month, the VA's inspector general found that Shulkin made "misleading statements," "improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets" and turned an aide into a "personal travel concierge" to plan "high tea" and "Roman baths" at the request of Shulkin's wife.
Shulkin acknowledged the "optics" of his travel arrangement were "not good" at a hearing before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs last month, but promised to reimburse the Treasury to follow the IG recommendations.
More recently, the secretary faced a new wave of backlash after a report from a VA watchdog released earlier this month slammed the department, blaming "failed leadership" and a "climate of complacency" for putting patients at risk at a Washington, D.C., VA hospital when Shulkin was under secretary. The watchdog said that at least three program offices had sufficient information to inform Shulkin of prevalent safety issues at the D.C. VA medical center.
Shulkin was an Obama administration holdover who was elevated to lead the department by Mr. Trump when he took office. During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump frequently blasted what he called the "broken" VA system, referring to it as "probably the most incompetently run agency."
But Jackson is a bit of a mystery to many. In a statement, Sen. Johnny Isakson, the GOP chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, said he looks forward to "learning more" about Jackson.