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Sen. Joe Manchin talking on a cell phone. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin hosted a conference call with Ronny Jackson, President Trump's pick for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and West Virginia veterans on Monday to learn more about his plans for the VA, Manchin's Communications Director Jonathan Kott told Axios.

Why this matters: The White House is afraid Jackson won't get confirmed, Axios' Jonathan Swan reported, so this call could be Jackson's last-ditch effort to convince Democrats he's worthy.

The details: Sen. Manchin pitched the call to Jackson to hear his stance on privatization (Manchin is against it) and learn more about his managerial experience (the VA has more than 300,000 employees). A person familiar with the call said Jackson "talked about the fact that he'd be overseeing an agency that his son would be using one day."

  • Manchin also wanted Jackson to answer questions directly from his state's veterans, which were represented by seven different groups on the call.

The backdrop: One of Trump's main campaign promises was to improve veterans' care by allowing more access to private doctors. He's also recently advocated for vets to be able to "run to a private doctor," which could signal he's considering privatizing VA health care.

  • David Shulkin, Jackson's predecessor, didn't support privatization and wanted to take a more moderate approach to health care for the millions of vets in the U.S. He was ousted from his position after serving just over a year.

Between the lines: The conference call with Jackson was a savvy political play for Manchin. Both Democrats and Republicans are skeptical of Jackson, especially after recent allegations of improper conduct. Hosting a call is one way Manchin, a vulnerable Democratic senator, can appear helpful to Trump with little personal cost.

The bottom line: Although Jackson maintains that he doesn't support privatization, Sen. Manchin still has concerns about his stance after the call, according to a person familiar. And simply saying he's against it won't be enough to convince Manchin, who recognizes that Trump could have sway with the nominee.

Go deeper

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
5 hours ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”

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