Trump Fires Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin

WASHINGTON -- After weeks of speculation, embattled Sec. David Shulkin is out as the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, President Donald Trump announced in a pair of tweets on Wednesday.“I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs...In the interim, Hon. Robert Wilkie of DOD will serve as Acting Secretary. I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin’s service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS!” Trump tweeted.Trump is replacing Shulkin with Jackson, a White House physician, in the wake of a bruising ethics scandal and a mounting rebellion within the VA.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. And his dismissal comes amid a spare of departures from the Trump administration this month. Trump gave the boot to Texan and Sec. of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Economic adviser Gary Cohn and communications director Hope Hicks also left. The news of Shulkin's departure comes despite insistence from the White House as recently as Monday that Trump still had confidence in Shulkin, the lone Obama administration official in Trump's Cabinet.The ouster had been expected, with three administration officials telling the Associated Press earlier this week that Trump is planned to oust Shulkin amid an extraordinary rebellion at the agency and damaging government investigations into his alleged spending abuses.Shulkin's fate had remained in doubt following a blistering report by VA's internal watchdog in February that found he had improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets and his staff had doctored emails to justify his wife traveling to Europe with him at taxpayer expense.A separate VA watchdog investigation, due out in the coming weeks, is also looking into a complaint that Shulkin asked his security detail to accompany him to a Home Depot store and cart furniture items, according to two people familiar with the allegation who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.Earlier this month, two people familiar with the White House discussions told the AP that Trump increasingly viewed Shulkin as a distraction.On Monday, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley sought to dismiss reports of Shulkin's imminent dismissal as head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the government's second largest department with 370,000 employees. He told Fox News Channel, "we hear these types of rumors every day.""At this point in time, though he does have confidence in Dr. Shulkin," Gidley said. "But as you know, the president wants to put the right people in the right place at the right time and that could change."The department provides medical care and other benefits to 9 million military veterans in more than 1,700 health facilities around the U.S.-- Washington correspondent Katie Leslie contributed to this report.   Continue reading...

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