Trump eyes Rick Perry to replace struggling VA boss David Shulkin

Nellie Chapman
March 14, 2018

Shulkin pulled a similar move last week, meeting with Kelly and subsequently calling up The New York Times to declare victory. "Did I do the right job with Rick?" the president said to applause.

"We'll never have to use those words on our David", Mr. Trump said, pointing his finger at the secretary like a pistol. Yet in recent weeks, a scandal so severe has roiled Shulkin's department that it's drawn the attention of Donald Trump, who has reportedly come to view the V.A. head as a "major problem". An inspector general report found that Shulkin spent most of a taxpayer-funded trip to Europe sightseeing, misused government resources by having the VA cover the cost of his wife's airfare and improperly accepted tickets to Wimbledon. "Unfortunately, Secretary Shulkin, by his conduct, lacks the moral authority to achieve you goals of a transparent, accountable VA that is dedicated to meeting our nation's obligations to the men and women who wore the uniform and made tremendous sacrifices in defense of our freedoms". The energy department did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the report, nor did the White House.

Shulkin has been struggling with political appointees at his department, some of whom allegedly oppose his policies and are seeking his ouster. He iced out those he viewed as a threat and essentially became his own one-person press office.

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The secretary appeared to be regaining his footing.

But top White House officials have only become more irked with the secretary's penchant for publicly discussing internal politics, and Mr. Trump has begun searching for a replacement.

Coffman, a Colorado Republican who is a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, on February 28 wrote to Trump and asked him to fire Shulkin after an inspector general report found Shulkin improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets on a trip to Europe, lied about the trip, and that an aide doctored emails so Shulkin's wife could travel with him. Perry's immediate predecessor under the Obama administration was a nuclear physicist.

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