Trump Removes Only Holdover From Obama Administration From His Cabinet

30 March, 2018, 01:02 | Author: Orlando Hughes
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President Trump has announced that he intends to nominate Dr. Ronny Jackson to replace Dr. David Shulkin, who has been U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs since February 14, 2017. Trump nominated Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, to replace Shulkin. Jackson's bio sheet shows no executive-level experience to justify the pick.

Shulkin's firing was the latest in a series of departures for top administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was sacked by Trump earlier this month.

In a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday, Shulkin says he's actually being ousted because of his opposition to privatizing the Veterans Affairs agency. He then accepted free tickets to the women's finals match at Wimbledon and lied to ethics investigators about his relationship with the person who gave him the tickets. However, his tenure had been clouded recently by controversy stemming from a trip he took to Europe last year-that included his wife-and was the subject of an Office of Inspector General report last month.

"We've said to Cerner Corporation we are not going to sign a contract that's going to allow proprietary protection and information blocking to continue", said Shulkin during the hearing. Shulkin also blamed internal drama at the agency on a half-dozen or so rebellious political appointees, insisting he had White House backing to fire them.

Shulkin, the lone Democrat in Trump's Cabinet, was appointed in January 2017 after serving in the Obama administration, though Trump had promised to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Lack of funding has weakened the hospital network specifically dedicated to the health of veterans - a key constituency for Trump. Many of them lauded his service on the evening he was sacked.

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He also lamented that the department has become increasingly political. He reported the president's "overall health is excellent" and recommended he lose "10 to 15 pounds" over the next year. The report proposed gradually shutting down all VA medical centers and outpatient services and sending 9 million patients into the private sector for care. "He has been a great supporter of veterans across the country and I am grateful for his service".

"The Department of Veterans Affairs is in active procurement negotiations for a commercial-off-the-shelf electronic health record system", said the agency in a written statement. According to Politico, he announced in a recent email plans to return to VA.

Trump had considered several others for the post, including conservative "Fox & Friends" contributor Pete Hegseth. But he would be opposed by most traditional veteran groups.

In 2005, the Navy said Jackson joined the 2nd Marines Combat Logistics Regiment 25 in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and that he deployed from there to Iraq as the war was underway before Bush tapped him for a White House role.

Jackson eagerly embraced the idea of moving to the VA, according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters. Instead, Shulkin opted for a more moderate approach. He shaped caregiver expansion plans and led efforts to streamline VA community care options. Shulkin adds that privatization of the VA is at its root a "political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans".

"I have fought to stand up for this great department and all that it embodies", he wrote. "Our job is to strengthen the VA, in order to provide high-quality care to our veterans, not dismember it". Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who is the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs' Chairman, released a statement praising Shulkin. "As we've said pretty much every day since we got here-because you guys have continued to ask about this topic every single day-there was no collusion, and we're very confident in that, and look forward to this process wrapping up".

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