United States President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday via Twitter that he has fired David Shulkin as Veterans Affairs Secretary. The president named White House physician Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Lynn Jackson as his nominee to replace the embattled Shulkin, NPR reported.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
“I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin’s service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS,” Trump added.
Trump also announced that Robert Wilkie, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness at the Department of Defense, will serve as the acting secretary of the department while Jackson awaits Senate confirmation.
White House also released a statement from the president regarding the firing of Shulkin. In the statement, Trump expressed appreciation for the former VA secretary.
“I appreciate the work of Dr. David Shulkin and the many great things we did together at Veterans Affairs, including the VA Accountability Act that he was helping in getting passed,” Trump said. “He has been a great supporter of veterans across the country and I am grateful for his service.”
The president’s choice to replace Shulkin is no stranger to the White House. The decorated Texas native has been part of the White House medical unit since 2006, which means he’s been taking care of three presidents. In 2013, then-President Barack Obama officially appointed Jackson as physician to the president.
Trump’s decision has been met with criticism. Jackson is known as the White House doctor who gained national attention when he gave Trump a clean bill of health after his first physical as president.
During an hour-long press briefing in January, Jackson discussed the results of the president’s physical.
“Some people just have great genes,” Jackson said.
“I told the president that if he had a healthier diet over the past 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old… But I would say the answer to your question is he has incredibly good genes and it’s just the way God made him.”
According to Jackson, Trump is overweight at 6’3″ and 239 pounds but otherwise healthy. These figures drew a lot of criticisms as some claimed Trump looked heavier than that. In fact, Trump was compared to other people, particularly athletes, who weighed as much as he does. Sports Illustrated made a short list of athletes around the same size as Trump and the side-by-side comparisons were not too flattering for the president.
Shulkin, the first nonveteran to become head of the Veterans Affairs Department, is embroiled in a corruption scandal after he allegedly accepted Wimbledon tickets as gifts and used government funds to take his wife shopping and sightseeing in Europe. It was also revealed that Shulkin had an email doctored to justify why his wife traveled with him and used taxpayers’ money in the process.
Shulkin has also been accused by a member of his security detail of purchasing pieces of furniture at Home Depot and having him carry them back to the former secretary’s home.
Shulkin was expected to be the next to go after the recent firing spree that saw Trump giving the pink slip to Andrew McCabe, HR McMaster, and Rex Tillerson, as reported in another Inquisitr article. Trump has been dealing with changes in his administration after he fired the likes of Steve Bannon, Anthony Scaramucci, James Comey, Sally Yates, and Preet Bharara, among others. A number of White House personalities, such as Gary Cohn, Rob Porter and long-time aide Hope Hicks to name a few, also resigned from their positions.
Shulkin’s firing comes almost a year after Trump claimed he will never use his The Apprentice catchphrase “you’re fired” on him. Trump reportedly has been considering firing Shulkin as early as a couple of weeks ago after it was rumored that he was looking at Energy Secretary Rick Perry to replace the VA secretary, according to CNN.
Chief of Staff John Kelly informed Shulkin of his dismissal before Trump announced it on Twitter, according to a White House official.