Trump Eyes Rick Perry To Replace Veterans Affairs Secretary

Mark Wilson  Getty Images North America

President Donald Trump is considering replacing Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin with candidates including Energy Secretary Rick Perry, according to an administration official, after an inspector general's report last month said Dr. Shulkin had misspent taxpayer money during an official trip to Europe a year ago. Trump raised the idea with Perry on Monday, according to a number of news outlets that cited unidentified White House officials, but has not offered him the job so far.

Shulkin met with Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, at the White House March 5 to discuss the agency's turmoil.

In the midst of the controversies, Shulkin has complained that he is the victim of "subversion" from within the VA and at the White House organized by Trump administration political appointees who see him as an obstacle to expansion of the choice program allowing veterans to opt for private health care.

Veteran's Affairs Secretary David Shulkin looks down during a press briefing last August.

"Thank you to the Energy Secretary, Rick Perry".

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Trump became irritated with Shulkin for publicly claiming that he has to fire people and purge his agency of Trump appointees, two people said. And all that happened amid an internal push to oust Shulkin by members of the Veterans Affairs Department.

He took office in February 2017 following a unanimous vote by the Senate. It found Shulkin improperly accepted two tickets to the ladies' final match at Wimbledon. His impressive start, however, now seems to be in the distant past as controversies have hounded his leadership. His status as the sole Obama holdover in Trump's administration initially did not raise any issues, people familiar with the situation said.

Shulkin has expressed his regret for the distractions that have prevented the VA from focusing on serving veterans.

According to previous a report, Trump was in frequent contact with Fox News host Sean Hannity ahead of the release of a controversial intelligence memo last month.

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