Trump replaces Veteran Affairs secretary with presidential physician

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Washington, March 29 (IANS) Donald Trump has announced that he will replace Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin with Ronny Jackson, who currently serves as physician to the US President, the media reported.

On Wednesday, Trump thanked Shulkin via Twitter for his “service to our country and to our great veterans” and said Robert Wilkie, the under secretary of defence for personnel and readiness, will serve as acting secretary until Jackson was confirmed, reports CNN.

A White House official said the embattled Shulkin was no longer effective in his role, saying his “distractions were getting in the way of carrying out the President’s agenda”.

Shulkin won unanimous confirmation from the Senate last year and had enjoyed bipartisan support and the backing of the President, who touted his legislative victories at the Veterans Affairs department.

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But the situation grew tenuous in recent months with Shulkin telling reporters that Trump administration’s political appointees have been working to oust him over policy differences.

Jackson, who is an active duty Navy physician, was nominated last week for a military promotion by the President.

Meanwhile, Jackson was appointed as physician to the president by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama in 2013, after having served on the White House medical team since 2006.

He continued in that role after Trump came into office and the two quickly developed a bond, CNN reported.

“He’s like central casting — like a Hollywood star,” Trump told donors during a fundraiser in Florida last month.

Jackson took on an unusually public role earlier this year when he took to the White House briefing room to field questions about Trump’s health, just days after questions about the President’s mental fitness for office were raised.

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Shulkin’s firing comes after a string of other White House terminations earlier this month.

Trump fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on March 16, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster was removed from his post on March 15 and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was sacked on March 13.

–IANS

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