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President Trump has fired his embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. On Twitter today he said he's going to nominate Ronny Jackson, the physician to the president, for the role. As Axios' Jonathan Swan wrote on Sunday, Shulkin's days were numbered due to ongoing drama at the department over spending and personnel.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Why this matters via Swan: Trump loves Jackson, thinks he’s a great guy and did a terrific job behind the podium when he delivered Trump’s medical results. Trump regarded that appearance as a triumph, according to sources with direct knowledge. This appointment is yet another example of how personal relationships — and Trump’s personal comfort level — are the whole ballgame.

  • But, but, but.... White House officials are well aware of Jackson's lack of experience running large organizations — the VA is the second-largest federal agency. Defense official Robert Wilkie, who will serve as acting secretary pending Jackson's confirmation, is very well regarded and administration officials wouldn't be concerned if he had to stay on a while during a drawn out confirmation for Jackson.

Details on Jackson provided by the White House:

  • Attended Texas A&M University and University of Texas Medical Branch. Began active duty naval service in 1995
  • Operational assignments included, instructor at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Florida; det. officer in charge and diving medical officer at Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 8 in Sigonella, Italy; and diving safety officer at the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk.
  • Served residency in emergency medicine at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center and then assigned as clinical faculty in the Emergency Medicine Residency Program at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia.
  • Served in a forward deployed Surgical Shock Trauma Platoon in Taqaddum, Iraq.
  • White House physician for second term of George W. Bush, both terms of Barack Obama.
  • Jackson does not have reported experience running an agency equivalent to the size of the VA, the second largest agency in the federal government.

Shulkin's turbulent ride at the White House:

  • The VA's inspector general reported last month that Shulkin used taxpayer dollars to pay for his wife to go to Europe.
  • He started handling his own media relations because he doesn't trust the agency's communications staff.
  • The White House was befuddled by Shulkin's media appearances. Senior officials were especially furious when he told Politico that he had their blessing to clean house.

The first sentence of this story has been corrected to say Jackson is the White House physician, not Trump's personal physician.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Political consultants pocket taxpayer cash

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Members of Congress are turning to the same political consultants who got them elected to blast out taxpayer-funded communications from their government offices, records show.

Why it matters: While those members are barred from politicking with official funds, the firms have expertise in boosting elected officials' images for political gain and are in high demand for both campaign and government work.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Transplants rebound from COVID lull
  2. Vaccines: WHO: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America
  3. Politics: Government website for free COVID tests launches early
  4. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older
  5. Variant tracker
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Schumer pushes for doomed filibuster changes

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer addresses reporters Tuesday. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told the Democratic caucus Tuesday night he plans to propose instituting a one-time "talking" filibuster requirement, and bypassing the 60-vote threshold for major legislation, to pass the party's election reforms package via simple majority.

Why it matters: While Schumer acknowledged both votes are expected to fail — and some vulnerable Democrats up for re-election feel it will put them in a tough spot — he argued it's worth putting members on the record for historic legislation.

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