Trump ousts Veterans Affairs chief David Shulkin in administration's latest shake-up

Trump Announces Firing Of Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin

Trump thanked Shulkin via Twitter for his "service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS" and said Robert Wilkie, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, will serve as acting secretary until Jackson is confirmed.

David Shulkin was the only Obama-era holdover in Trump's Cabinet.

The uncertainty has left the leader of the federal government's second-largest agency, its employees, and even senior White House officials wondering if Shulkin still officially speaks for VA. Shulkin has said publicly that high-level political appointees installed by the White House are scheming to oust him over personality and policy differences.

Trump nominated Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson to the post - the president also recently nominated Jackson to receive a second star, promoting him to the rank of rear admiral.

The next VA secretary is likely to favor a shift toward more private care, a goal at odds with numerous traditional veterans advocacy groups. But he enjoyed broad support from traditional veterans groups, which fear that more private sector care will lead to diminished resources for VA's 1,700 medical clinics and hospitals. Its sprawling health-care and benefits system, which Trump blasted on the campaign trail as a wasteful, inefficient failure, serves 9 million former troops.

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"The struggle at the Veterans Administration is about Trump's desire to privatize the VA and his belief that Secretary David Shulkin is not moving fast enough in that direction", Sanders said on Sunday.

"The president's physical exam today at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center went exceptionally well", Jackson said in a statement the White House provided to reporters at the time.

That's a retreat from deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley's message on Fox News Monday morning. "And stylistically he's not of the same world as President Trump".

Though Trump and Shulkin got along well for many months, the mood inside the White House began to change as Shulkin clashed with conservative appointees over how to expand veterans access to private medical care, a program known as Choice that started in 2014 after revelations VA managers were manipulating patient wait lists. With bipartisan agreement on many fixes needed at the VA, Shulkin helped push through an expansion of mental health care, increased suicide prevention and a law making it easier to remove poor-performing officials.

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". But in February, internal investigators at the VA accused Shulkin of mismanaging agency funds while on a trip in the British Isles and improperly accepting tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament. He was previously appointed by Obama as undersecretary for health at the VA in July 2015.

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