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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

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
13 mins ago - Economy & Business

Coinbase opens at $102 billion valuation on first day of public trading

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase opened trading on Wednesday at $381 per share, giving it a fully diluted market value of around $102 billion.

Why it matters: This is a slight premium to the most recent private trades for Coinbase stock, and more than 50% higher than the reference price set last night by the Nasdaq.

45 mins ago - World

U.S. intelligence expects a stormy year in the Middle East

A technical team explodes remnant ammunition near Sirte, Libya. Photo: Mohammed Ertima/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Ongoing conflicts, economic crises and the fallout from COVID-19 will likely destabilize several countries in the Middle East in 2021 and could even put some on the brink of collapse, according to the U.S. intelligence community's annual Threat Assessment Report, released on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The report is the most comprehensive assessment the intelligence community produces every year. It paints a portrait of conflicts, insurgencies, terrorism and protest movements across the Middle East.

Updated 47 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Officer Kim Potter arrested, charged with manslaughter in Daunte Wright's death

Photo: Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Kim Potter, the former police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright outside Minneapolis on Sunday, was arrested and charged by Washington County Pete Orput with second-degree manslaughter on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The shooting of the 20-year-old Black man in Brooklyn Center, Minn., just ten miles from where George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last year, has reinvigorated Black Lives Matter protests and led to three consecutive nights of unrest.

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