Baldwin, Gallagher weigh in on VA secretary's firing, agency's future

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Trump tweeted early Wednesday evening that Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, who has served as the doctor for the past three presidents, would be replacing David Shulkin as Secretary.

His profile rose after he conducted a sweeping press conference about the president's medical exam in January in which he impressed Trump with his camera-ready demeanor and deft navigation of reporters' questions as he delivered a rosy depiction of the president's health, according to a person familiar with the president's thinking but not authorised to discuss private conversations.

White House officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Shulkin had become a distraction due to a constant wave of speculation about his future and said he would be leaving in the next day or two.

It was former President Barack Obama who selected Jackson to fill the position of physician to the president. Jackson was vetted during that time on his policy positions and other issues, the official said.

Of Jackson, Rieckhoff added, "he's going to have a very hard row to hoe to try to convince people that he's qualified".

President Trump shakes hands with White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson after Friday's physical.

White House on Thursday rejected Shulkin's assertions that it was seeking to privatize the agency. However, they also criticized Shulkin for the allegations that he took a pricey trip to Europe that appeared to include more tourism and sightseeing than VA business.

Roughly one third of veterans already see private doctors, but the President and his allies are pushing for more private care, particularly the group Concerned Veterans for America, which is backed by the billionaire Koch brothers. I have been falsely accused of things by people who wanted me out of the way.

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Sen. Jon Tester, the top Democrat on the VA committee, praised Shulkin for serving "honorably" and said he looked forward "to meeting Admiral Jackson soon and seeing if he is up to the job".

Shulkin survived 13 months in Trump's cabinet.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of IL, a combat veteran and a former assistant secretary at the VA, said Mr. Shulkin was pushed out by "privatization extremists".

Shulkin had continued to insist he had the full confidence of the White House amid continuing investigations over his travel and leadership of the department. 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.

David Shulkin, fired by the President on Wednesday, departs at a critical moment with big decisions about the future of veterans' health care and its health records systems waiting in the wings.

Emails obtained by The Post show senior VA aides bristling over Shulkin's resistance to efforts to expand the amount of care veterans could get from private doctors and openly discussing his removal.

The spending included $4,300 for airfare for Shulkin's wife. In the interim, Robert Wilkie, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, will be the acting VA secretary. The Veterans Health Administration, the largest integrated healthcare system in the United States, provides care at more than 1,200 facilities, including 170 VA Medical Centers, to more than 9 million veterans. He went on to become the honor graduate of the Navy's Undersea Medical Officer Program in Groton, Conn., before getting more credentials in emergency medicine.