President Donald Trump is on revamp mission, replacing David Shulkin as secretary of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday and nominated Ronny Jackson, the head of the medical team of the last three leaders.
The departure joins the stream of casualties in the last month within Washington, which have included the national security adviser , HR McMaster, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn.
The White House did not specify whether Shulkin resigned or was fired.
For days, the head of the department that coordinates medical and social assistance to retired military veterans had lost the support of Donald Trump.
He suffered an internal war in the department and had been the object of an investigation into the misuse of public funds.
In a statement, Trump said he “appreciates” the “great things” that Shulkin did for veterans. And he defined Jackson, who is a retired military man, as a “highly qualified” specialist and knowledgeable about the needs of war veterans.
Shulkin was an exceptional figure, for being the only one of the senior officials from the previous administration of Democrat Barack Obama. Until the Senate votes on Jackson’s nomination, he will be temporarily replaced by his number two in the Department of Veterans, Robert Wilkie.
At the start of the new presidency, Shulkin cultivated a good relationship with Trump, who saw him as an efficient manager and praised by both parties to improve the complicated bureaucracy of the second largest federal department, which assists more than 20 million veterans and in the past has been involved in controversy over its hospital management .
The outlook, however, changed drastically for Shulkin in February.
An internal investigation of the Department of Veterans, initiated after a journalistic revelation, concluded that the secretary committed “serious negligence” during a trip he made in 2017 to the United Kingdom and Denmark. He determined that Shulkin had gone sightseeing, had given misleading information so that his wife’s trip was also covered by the American taxpayer and had unduly accepted as a gift some tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament.
The first Health Secretary, Tom Price, resigned in September for similar reasons.
The explanations of the secretary failed to appease the discomfort of Washington.
He collided with part of his team at the Veterans Department, which, along with the White House, promoted private health care for retired military personnel. Instead, Shulkin opted for a more moderate approach.
When the investigation came up due to his trip to Europe, part of his team used it against him and ask the White House for his dismissal.