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Trump nominates Robert Wilkie as VA secretary

President Donald Trump announced Friday that he is nominating Robert Wilkie to lead the Department of Veterans Affair...

Posted: May 18, 2018 8:23 PM
Updated: May 18, 2018 8:23 PM

President Donald Trump announced Friday that he is nominating Robert Wilkie to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, three weeks after his previous nominee withdrew from the confirmation process amid controversy.

Wilkie is currently the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness but has been serving as the VA's acting secretary since the President fired VA Secretary David Shulkin in late March. But Trump said the announcement came as a surprise even to Wilkie.

"Acting Secretary Wilkie -- who, by the way, has done an incredible job at the VA, and I'll be informing him in a little while, he doesn't know this yet -- that we're going to be putting his name up for nomination to be secretary of the Veterans Administration," Trump said, before shaking Wilkie's hand. "I'm sorry that I ruined the surprise. I'll see you anyway."

Wilkie's nomination capped a tumultuous seven weeks since the President fired VA Secretary David Shulkin and nominated White House physician Ronny Jackson to replace him, only to watch Jackson's nomination flame out amid allegations of improper behavior during his time at the helm of the White House medical unit.

Trump made the announcement during an unrelated White House event on prison reform and as news coverage of the latest mass shooting in America blanketed the airwaves. He delivered the VA news moments after expressing his "sadness and heartbreak" over the Santa Fe, Texas, school shooting.

With Wilkie's nomination, the President will look to move past the failed nomination of Jackson, who was first viewed as unqualified to lead the federal government's second-largest department, but whose nomination was ultimately stymied by a series of allegations leveled by nearly two dozen of his current and former colleagues.

Jackson denied the allegations of abusive behavior, drinking on the job and loosely prescribing medication, but withdrew from consideration because he said the allegations had "become a distraction" to Trump's agenda.

Views unclear but has military experience

Since being named to lead VA in an acting capacity, Wilkie has been working to steady the agency, meeting with employees to discuss their jobs, according to an agency source.

But his views on how fully to shift care for veterans into the private sector and other high-profile issues facing the agency remain unclear.

In an introductory three-minute video message to VA staff soon after taking the job, Wilkie stressed his background as the son of an Army artillery commander and service as a Navy intelligence officer. He was a senior Pentagon staffer under Defense Secretaries Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld.

While serving in the VA's top job in an acting capacity, Wilkie had received praise from White House insiders and veterans' groups for the job he had done.

But some veterans' groups chafed at his appointment, calling on Trump to remove Wilkie after he was nominated, and instead give the job to Thomas Bowman, the VA's deputy secretary, whom the White House passed over for the job of acting secretary.

In Wilkie's acting capacity, he oversaw the approval of a critical contract, the $10 billion deal with Cerner Corporation to overhaul the health records of millions of veterans.

Wilkie appeared at the White House press briefing Thursday, and praised the passage of House legislation that, if it becomes law, would give veterans more freedom to see doctors outside the VA's health care system.

The bill passed the House in a bipartisan fashion, despite concerns from some Democrats who viewed it as a step toward dismantling the VA health care system.

However, the move fulfilled a campaign pledge of Trump to expand private care for veterans who are dissatisfied with the healthcare they receive in VA's system.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49575

Reported Deaths: 2739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11812690
Lake5337247
Elkhart343257
Allen2867133
St. Joseph202569
Cass16439
Hamilton1629101
Hendricks1439100
Johnson1306118
Porter78038
Tippecanoe7439
Clark67144
Madison66864
Vanderburgh6296
LaPorte59727
Bartholomew59245
Howard58258
Kosciusko5654
Marshall5217
Noble49128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4773
Delaware46052
Boone45944
Hancock45736
Shelby43425
Floyd39144
Morgan32831
Monroe31528
Grant30226
Montgomery29720
Henry29316
Dubois2906
Clinton2882
White26810
Decatur25532
Lawrence25125
Dearborn24723
Vigo2408
Warrick23229
Harrison21722
Greene19132
Miami1892
Jennings17912
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess15017
Wayne1496
Perry1409
Orange13623
Steuben1332
Franklin1278
Jasper1252
Ripley1247
Wabash1152
Carroll1122
Fayette1037
Gibson1032
Newton9910
Whitley995
Starke963
Huntington822
Randolph804
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox650
Clay644
Rush603
Owen511
Adams491
Posey490
Benton480
Spencer461
Sullivan451
Brown421
Blackford392
Fountain332
Crawford320
Tipton311
Switzerland280
Parke240
Martin220
Ohio210
Vermillion170
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61331

Reported Deaths: 3006
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11122439
Cuyahoga8518383
Hamilton6396206
Lucas2859304
Marion273739
Montgomery228335
Summit2269209
Pickaway220641
Mahoning1885239
Butler172147
Columbiana132460
Stark1171114
Lorain107368
Trumbull101474
Warren91825
Clark78410
Delaware64515
Fairfield61417
Tuscarawas59010
Belmont55822
Lake55122
Medina54832
Licking53612
Miami48631
Portage47759
Wood46151
Ashtabula43844
Clermont4367
Geauga41543
Wayne36752
Richland3595
Allen33841
Greene3009
Mercer29410
Erie26022
Darke25326
Holmes2524
Huron2342
Madison2069
Ottawa16124
Sandusky14215
Washington14220
Crawford1375
Ross1363
Putnam13315
Coshocton1323
Hardin12312
Morrow1201
Auglaize1094
Jefferson952
Muskingum921
Union921
Athens911
Monroe8917
Hancock841
Preble811
Hocking798
Lawrence790
Guernsey763
Shelby724
Williams722
Clinton700
Logan661
Fulton650
Ashland621
Wyandot615
Carroll603
Brown591
Scioto560
Defiance543
Knox531
Fayette510
Highland471
Champaign461
Van Wert430
Perry401
Seneca362
Henry320
Jackson270
Paulding270
Pike270
Adams241
Vinton222
Gallia201
Noble130
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Unassigned00
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