VA Secretary Shulkin Out, Replaced by Trump’s Doctor

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, center, arrives for a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump revealed another staff shake-up via Twitter on Wednesday, announcing Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has been fired and will be replaced by Admiral Ronny Jackson, the president’s personal physician.

Shulkin, a Barack Obama appointee who was carried over into the Trump administration on a resounding 99-0 vote, has been the subject of speculation for weeks after a series of investigations and scandals plagued the secretary.

In February, the Veterans Affairs inspector general Michael Missal launched an investigation into Shulkin’s spending habits after an internal audit revealed his chief of staff Viveca Wright Simpson altered an official email to get a flight for Shulkin’s wife approved.

The flight cost a little over $4,000.

Shulkin later told reporters he mailed a reimbursement check to the government.

Allegations of ethical entanglements didn’t stop there. The inspector general’s report also found Shulkin may have misused taxpayer funds and other federal resources when he accepted tickets to Wimbledon. The report found Shulkin’s overseas tennis excursion – to which he brought his wife – cost roughly $122,000.

The secretary denied the allegations – including one suggesting suggested he attempted to arrange a meeting between himself and Britain’s Prince Harry during a trip to the Invictus Games in Canada last year.

“I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin’s service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS!” Trump tweeted Wednesday night. (Capitalization original.)

In Shulkin’s wake, Department of Defense undersecretary Robert Wilkie will step in until Jackson is confirmed.

Jackson is also an Obama-era holdover, first hired in 2013. A former doctor in the U.S. Navy, Jackson graduated from the Navy’s Undersea Medical Officer program and practiced at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Florida.

Jackson also served as White House physician under President George W. Bush before being promoted to presidential physician by Obama.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs did not immediately respond to request for comment Wednesday night.

 

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