Coupled with rumors that current Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is once again under fire from President Donald Trump in light of recent events, it was reported by various news outlets Tuesday that the President is considering replacing Shulkin with Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
A VA Inspector General report last month revealed Shulkin allegedly attempted to cover up a taxpayer-funded 10-day European excursion his wife went on last summer that was initiated through doctored emails. Shulkin’s then-chief of staff made false statements in order to disguise the vacation as a government trip.
Earlier this month, it was reported by Axios‘ Jonathan Swan that Trump was more than unhappy with current affairs at the VA, and that the President could end up firing Shulkin if this drama keeps up.
“Trump has been telling associates he doesn’t know what’s happened at the VA, but he doesn’t like what he’s hearing and he may have to fire Shulkin if the situation further deteriorates,” Swan reported.
It seems as though President Trump has given Shulkin’s firing even more thought.
The Associated Press stated that a source familiar with the White House discussions on the issue said Trump has floated the notion of the Cabinet reshuffle as a way to “right the ship at the VA.”
The report mentions that Trump believes Sulkin has become a “distraction to the department’s work.” The source was not authorized to elaborate further.
The recent murmurs of Rick Perry, in particular, possibly being Shulkin’s replacement come just a day after the President hosted Perry at the White House for lunch, though no formal job offer was made at that time, according to unnamed sources.
For now, it remains to be seen if these rumors have any substance. However, Shulkin does have an upcoming VA watchdog report scheduled for release this summer that will further outline any mishandling of government funds or inappropriate use of his security detail.
Following the controversy, the Shulkin staff member who was accused of altering the emails in question resigned, and Shulkin wrote a check to reimburse the government for the cost of his wife’s travel expenses. According to his attorneys, he also intends on repaying other costs.
The news of a possible shake-up at the VA comes at the heels of President Trump’s recent firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who adds his name to the long list of ousted Trump Administration Cabinet members. Trump announced CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement, with Tillerson is scheduled to end his tenure at the end of March.