Trump fires Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin

Trump said he appreciated Shulkin's work, including passage of the VA Accountability Act."He has been a great supporter of veterans across the country and I am grateful for his service", Trump said in a statement.

Richard Tubb, who trained Jackson, said in a letter read at Jackson's briefing that the members of the White House medical team have been "figuratively Velcro-ed" to Trump since the day after his election.

Shulkin's biggest weakness Carter said, was that he didn't connect with the president's allies.

White House officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Shulkin had become a distraction due to a constant wave of speculation about his future.

Until Jackson is confirmed by the Senate, Trump said, Robert Wilkie of the Department of Defense will serve as acting secretary of the VA. "Mr. Wilkie is now the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness at the Department of Defense and overseas health affairs, welfare and quality of life for military families", the president said.

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin arrives to testify to the House Veterans' Affairs Committee on the VA's budget request for FY2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2018.


"I have no personnel announcements to make at this time", he told one inquiring reporter, repeating the phrase in response to another question later.

Jackson recently presided over Trump's first presidential physical and gave the president a clean bill of health. "That's for sure", Trump said in June.

Trump tweets that he intends to nominate "highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs".

A White House official said Trump warmed to Jackson and had been aware that Shulkin had sought to make Jackson the VA undersecretary a year ago.

"That's just the way God made him", Jackson said. It is government's second largest department, responsible for 9 million military veterans in more than 1,700 government-run health facilities.

The sudden departure comes as Mr Trump is seeking to expand the Veterans Choice programme, a campaign promise that major veterans' groups worry could be an unwanted step towards privatising VA health care.


Trump praised Shulkin as "fantastic" when he chose him to head the VA in January 2017.

Shulkin has been facing down a mutiny from a portion of his staff in recent months over whether or not the VA should embrace private healthcare.

But support for him at the White House eroded quickly in recent weeks as Trump grew tired of the drumbeat of negative headlines about him.

So, when an inspector general's report found that Shulkin had gone sightseeing - and improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets - during a trip overseas, his enemies pounced.

Shulkin is the second Cabinet secretary to depart over controversies involving expensive travel, following former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's resignation last September.


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