Trump pushes out Shulkin at VA, nominates Jackson as replacement

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But his tenure took a sour turn on February 14 when the VA inspector-general reported that Shulkin and his wife had improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets and used staff to arrange site-seeing visits during a business trip to Denmark and England last summer.

Senior administration officials say Trump has gleefully bashed Tillerson since firing him on Twitter.

Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax, talked to the president Saturday and then said on TV on Sunday that Shulkin is "likely to depart the Cabinet very soon".

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. "He is a secretary and he has done some great things at the VA".

The report fueled Shulkin's critics, both within his own agency and outside it, and brought into the open the power struggle over how to best care for the nation's veterans.

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Several people close to the president said they expected him to make a dramatic move to draw attention away from the Daniels interview.

Trump said he was "proud" to nominate the White House's top doctor to take over the VA. "Admiral Jackson is highly trained and qualified and as a service member himself, he has seen firsthand the tremendous sacrifice our veterans make and has a deep appreciation for the debt our great country owes them", the president said.

Navy Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, the lead White House doctor, said on January 16 that President Trump's "overall health is excellent". "That's for sure", Trump said in June.

At the regular White House press briefing later Monday, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah declined to get into the specifics of how much confidence Trump has in Shulkin or how long it will last.

"That's just the way God made him", Jackson said. The Veterans Health Administration, the largest integrated healthcare system in the United States, provides care at more than 1,200 facilities, including 170 VA Medical Centers, to more than 9 million veterans.

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Trump, who promised improved veterans' care during his presidential campaign, past year said the department had made "tremendous progress" under Shulkin.

At the time, he called for the head of the VA to "clean house".

The report found Shulkin's chief of staff falsely represented to VA ethics officials the itinerary of the trip in order to have Shulkin's wife approved as an "invitational traveler".

Shulkin said after the release of the inspector general's report that he would comply with its recommendations, including reimbursing the government for his wife's $4,312 airfare and paying his friend for the Wimbledon tickets.

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