Trump fires Veterans Affairs boss David Shulkin, names White House physician Ronny Jackson as replacement | News | DW | 29.03.2018
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Trump fires Veterans Affairs boss David Shulkin, names White House physician Ronny Jackson as replacement

US President Donald Trump has fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shuklin, making him the latest cabinet member to leave the administration. He nominated the White House physician to head the embattled agency.

White House physician Ronny Jackson (Reuters/C. Barria)

White House Physician Ronny Jackson has been nominted to run the veterans agency

President Donald Trump fired another cabinet member on Wednesday. This time the axe fell on Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin who was caught up in a scandal as well as a mounting rebellion within the agency.

To replace him, Trump named White House doctor Ronny Jackson to lead the VA. Jackson, a Navy rear admiral, is a surprise choice to succeed Shulkin who was a former Obama administration official. 

It was no secret that Trump had been considering replacements for Shulkin for weeks, but had not been known to be considering Jackson for the role.

Jackson, who has served as the Physician to the President since 2013, was praised by Trump as "highly trained and qualified.” 

A White House official said Shulkin was informed of his dismissal by Chief of Staff John Kelly before the president announced the move on Twitter.

An agency in disarray

Shulkin is the second Cabinet secretary to depart over controversies involving expensive travel. His dismissal comes in the wake of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's resignation last September.

A major veterans' organization expressed concern over Shulkin's dismissal and Jackson's appointment.

"We are disappointed and already quite concerned about this nominee," said Joe Chenelly, the national executive director of AMVETS.

"The administration needs to be ready to prove that he's qualified to run such a massive agency, a $200 billion (€162 billion) bureaucracy."

Shulkin's tenure as head of the Veterans Affairs department had been tainted by continuing investigations over his travel and leadership of the department.

He had agreed to reimburse the government for more than $4,000 after the VA's internal watchdog concluded last month that he had improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets.

It was also revealed that his then-chief of staff had doctored emails to justify his wife traveling to Europe with him at taxpayer expense. Shulkin also blamed internal drama at the agency on half-dozen or so political appointees who were rebelling against him.

For now, Trump has selected Robert Wilkie, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, to serve as the acting head of the agency.

The VA is the government's second largest department and is responsible for 9 million military veterans across more than 1,700 government-run health facilities.

av/bw (Reuters, AP)

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