President Trump announced in a tweet Wednesday that his Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was out, and being replaced by his White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson.
‘I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs,’ Trump tweeted Wednesday evening. ‘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!’
Jackson is the White House physician who gave Trump a clean bill of health in January, declaring he had ‘incredible genes’.
For days Shulkin looked to be on the chopping block as the president viewed the controversies surrounding the VA secretary, a holdover from the Obama administration, as a distraction.
Jackson wasn’t even being mentioned as a possible replacement, though played a memorable role in the administration when he came into the briefing room January and gushed about the president’s health.
‘He has a lot of energy and a lot of stamina,’ Jackson said at one point. ‘He’s very sharp. He’s very articulate when he speaks to me,’ the Navy doctor said at another.
His only gripe was that the president was slightly overweight.
Meanwhile, Shulkin has been a headache for the president as of late.
In February the VA’s internal watchdog issued a report that found that Shulkin had improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets.
Additionally, the probe found that Shulkin’s staff had doctored emails to justify the secretary’s wife traveling with him to Europe on the taxpayer dime.
The VA’s inspector general was also looking into a complaint that Shulkin asked his security detail to come along with him to Home Depot, and cart around furniture items.
Administration officials who talked to the Associated Press last weekend, while Trump was spending time at Mar-a-Lago, said an announcement on Shulkin could come this week, with one giving it a ’50-50′ chance he would be ousted in the next day or two.
Instead he lasted almost through the end of the business day on Wednesday.
Speculation over Shulkin’s fate has ramped up in recent weeks following a blistering report by VA’s internal watchdog in February that found he had improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets and his staff had doctored emails to justify his wife traveling to Europe with him at taxpayer expense.
Earlier this month, two people familiar with the White House discussions told the AP that Trump increasingly viewed Shulkin as a distraction as the White House floated the names of possible candidates to replace him, including conservative Fox & Friends contributor Pete Hegseth.