Trump May Not Be Done Rearranging His Cabinet (and This One Makes A LOT of Sense!)

Veterans Affairs Secretary-designate Dr. David Shulkin, currently undersecretary for health at the VA, is sworn-in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, prior to testifying at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

I can absolutely get behind this idea.

The Cabinet rearranging in the Trump administration may not end with ousting Rex Tillerson and moving Mike Pompeo to the Secretary of State position.


The New York Times is reporting that Trump is considering pulling former Texas Governor Rick Perry from his current position as Secretary of Energy, in order to replace the current secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin.

It makes perfect sense.

Perry, a former Air Force pilot, has long been an advocate for our military and for veterans. I imagine he would relish the role, if given the chance.

The conversation follows weeks of bitter infighting at the Veterans Affairs Department, where Dr. Shulkin has faced off in a rare public spat with a prominent group of Trump administration appointees who want to see him removed from office. The dispute goes beyond personality to a struggle over how far and how fast to privatize health care under the V.A. system.

Shulkin, a former hospital executive and a political moderate, who served under the Obama administration, hasn’t always been on the outs with the Trump administration, and in fact, has had some legislative victories under his belt.

Trump has praised him, and assured him his job was safe.

“We’ll never have to use those words on our David,” Mr. Trump said, pointing his finger at the secretary like a pistol. “We will never use those words on you, that’s for sure.”

But that was then, and this is now.

That tenor began to change in recent months, as Dr. Shulkin increasingly butted heads with conservative Trump administration officials over one of the White House’s top policy priorities for the department: the expansion of government-subsidized private health care for veterans, outside the government-run V.A. health system.


Shulkin pushed for a more moderate fix.

Then, of course, things really went south.

The dispute spilled into public over the last month, following a scathing report by department’s inspector general on a business trip that Dr. Shulkin took to Britain and Denmark last year. The report found “serious derelictions” related to the trip and concluded that the secretary spent much of it sightseeing and improperly accepted a gift of Wimbledon tickets.

The report in hand, Dr. Shulkin’s critics in the White House and the department — including his two top communications deputies — worked behind the scenes to try to hasten his ouster. Dr. Shulkin, who disputed the report’s findings, went public with fears that appointees were “trying to undermine the department from within.” He iced out those he viewed as a threat and essentially became his own one-person press office.

Apparently, after a few conversations with John Kelly, Shulkin felt he’d gotten back in Trump’s good graces, as Trump seemed to agree with his more moderate fixes.

That said, Shulkin may have overplayed his hand, and he’s done nothing to win over his detractors by public discussing department policy.

Mr. Perry is seen as a more pliant figure for the veterans affairs position. Unlike Dr. Shulkin, who had run the department’s health care system under President Barack Obama and spent a career in hospital administration, Mr. Perry has no background in health care delivery, but as Texas’ governor, he showed a willingness to experiment.

If Mr. Trump were to make the move, possible replacements for Mr. Perry could include Ray Washburne, a Dallas entrepreneur and prominent Republican fund-raiser; J. Larry Nichols, the former chairman of Devon Energy; and T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oilman, according to people who work closely with senior officials at the department and the White House.


For now, it’s another one of those rumors, in a very active day that has seen changes in the administration, as well as a president giving a speech about an imaginary “Space Force.”

And it’s only Tuesday.



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