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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

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

The latest: Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.

Hollywood union reaches deal with studios to avert strike

Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

A Hollywood workers' union reached a tentative deal with studios, networks and streamers that will guarantee better working conditions, meal breaks and increased wages for low-paid workers, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) announced Saturday night.

Why it matters: The deal, which still needs to be ratified by IATSE members, will avert a nationwide strike by film and television workers that was set to start Monday. It would have been the first strike in the union's 128-year history.

Bill Clinton released from hospital following treatment for non-COVID infection

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton was discharged from the University of California, Irvine Medical Center on Sunday, nearly a week after he was admitted for a non-COVID-related infection, according to his spokesperson Angel Ureña.

What they're saying: "His fever and white blood cell count are normalized and he will return home to New York to finish his course of antibiotics," wrote Dr. Alpesh Amin, who has been overseeing the team of doctors treating Clinton. "On behalf of everyone at UC Irvine Medical Center, we were honored to have treated him and will continue to monitor his progress."

Worth noting: Clinton had a urinary tract infection that spread to his bloodstream, per CNN.

  • The California-based medical team had been administering IV antibiotics and fluids, and was in constant communication with Clinton's New York team, including his cardiologist, according to the former president's physicians.
  • President Biden spoke by phone with Clinton on Friday to see how he was doing, and the catch-up included a discussion of recent politics.

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