Looking back on David Shulkin's tumultuous, scandal-marred tenure atop the federal government's second largest agency, it's amazing he made it this far.
Shulkin, the lone Obama holdover in Trump's cabinet, has been living under a cloud for weeks thanks to an investigation released last month which found that Shulkin and his staff committed several egregious ethics violations related to travel and access to other perk. During that time, he has struggled against a group of Trump appointees who've been trying to convince the president that Shulkin is the wrong man to lead such a crucial department.
And today, President Trump finally dropped the hammer. Less than 24 hours after the Washington Post published a story claiming Shulkin would soon be shown the door - the latest in a parade of departing senior Trump administration officials - the president himself announced Shulkin's resignation on Twitter, and even revealed whom he would nominate to lead the VA in Shulkin's stead.
I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
....In the interim, Hon. Robert Wilkie of DOD will serve as Acting Secretary. I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin’s service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
Shulkin's firing comes after he criticized the VA inspector general’s findings that the Shulkins improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets and airfare for Shulkin's wife during a 10-day European junket. He then refused to accept the determination that his chief of staff misled ethics officials to get clearance for his wife's airfare, suggesting instead that her email had been hacked. Of course, none of this was true. Shulkin later expressed regret and repaid the cost of the tickets and airfare.
Ronny Jackson, Shulkin's replacement, currently serves as physician to the president.
The firing comes, ironically, after Trump joked a year ago that he would never need to use his signature catchphrase on Shulkin.
Shulkin's situation was known to be "under review," according to Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. He survived 13 months in the Trump administration.