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Trump Picks White House Physician to Replace David Shulkin at Veterans Affairs

Presidential physician Adm. Ronny L. Jackson at a White House press briefing, January 16, 2018. (Carlos Barria/Retuers)

President Trump fired David Shulkin as Secretary of Veterans Affairs Wednesday afternoon in a tweet, tapping Admiral Ronny L. Jackson to replace him.


“I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin’s service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS!” the president wrote.

Robert Wilkie, the undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, will serve as acting secretary until Jackson is confirmed, Trump said.

Rumors swirled for weeks that Shulkin, an Obama appointee, was being ousted by Trump appointees on his senior staff. The secretary took a lower profile for the last weeks of his tenure at the VA.

Trump praised Shulkin’s “incredible” bipartisan work in increasing accountability and transparency at the department, including setting up a 24-hour White House hotline for veterans.

Shulkin fought to keep the VA from being totally privatized while still working to give veterans more access to VA resources in the private sector. However, the Trump senior VA officials fighting him wanted even more government-subsidized private health care for veterans.

An investigation also found that the VA secretary and his staff violated ethics rules regarding a trip to Europe they took last year, which was the beginning of the end for Shulkin.

Admiral Jackson is Trump’s presidential physician, appointed in 2013 by former president Obama.

The doctor joked last year about performing Trump’s first personal physical amid musings that the president was not healthy.

“I told the president that if he had a healthier diet over the last 20 years he might live to be 200 years old,” Jackson quipped at a press conference.

 

 

 

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