Two weeks ago, the Washington Post reported that conditions had gotten so bad between Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin and his Trump-appointed senior staff that he had an armed guard posted outside of his office. He may not need the protection for much longer.
According to an Associated Press report, President Donald Trump is planning on firing Shulkin, with one anonymous White House official telling the AP that it was “50-50" on whether or not Shulkin would be let go within the next day or two. Trump confidante and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy also told ABC’s This Week on Sunday that Trump was planning on making “one or two major changes to his government very soon,” and that “other White House sources, not the president, tell me that Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is likely to depart the Cabinet very soon.”
And New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted a similar prediction about a personnel change on Saturday.
In keeping with official Trump policy to fill his entire administration with guys he saw on TV once, the frontrunner to replace Shulkin is Fox & Friends’ Pete Hegseth. Previously, it was reported that Trump wanted to replace Shulkin with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, but Perry called the rumor “fake news,” because of course he did.
Both Ruddy and the AP said that Trump is planning on keeping chief of staff John Kelly and HUD Secretary Ben Carson for the time being.
Shulkin came under fire in February when the VA’s Inspector General issued an embarrassing report alleging that he accepted Wimbledon tickets and took a bunch of personal trips with his wife on the public dime during an official government trip to Europe last July. Shulkin called the report “completely inaccurate” at the time, but he’s also facing a separate investigation—with a report due out “in the coming weeks,” the AP says— into whether he used his security detail to pick up furniture at Home Depot. (What is it with these guys and furniture?)
To Shulkin’s credit, however, he’s regarded as a roadblock to the administration’s plans to privatize the VA, which has earned him the backing of major veterans groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars who seem to really like their socialized healthcare system for some reason. One has to think that a replacement for Shulkin picked from Fox News’ morning roster wouldn’t get that same support.