After Tillerson, embattled VA secretary could be next, Trump's advisers say


Democratic lawmakers slammed the "dysfunction of the administration", which has now "bled into the VA", and demanded to know "who's calling the shots", amid reports that President Trump is looking to oust embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. Trump invited Perry to the White House for lunch on Monday but did not formally offer him the job.

In a December 4 internal email obtained by the AP, Jake Leinenkugel, a senior aide installed as part of a Cabinet-wide program to monitor secretaries' loyalty, said Shulkin was becoming increasingly distrustful and regarded Camilo Sandoval, a senior adviser in VA's health arm, as a White House "spy".

Shulkin's "one-memoed hacker" theory isn't likely to cover those issues, and the White House has already gotten exhausted of hearing Shulkin's excuses.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is reportedly being considered to replace Shulkin.

The sources told AP the president believes Shulkin has "become a distraction" and has been given a final warning. But the events of recent weeks made clear to Trump and his associates the importance of naming their own person to the job.

Shulkin is accused of being one of the most corrupt officials under the Trump administration, according to Vanity Fair.

The department is responsible for veterans' benefits, health care, and national veterans' memorials and cemeteries. Trump has been angry with Shulkin, the official said, but is known to float staffing changes without always following through. Shulkin was the only one among Trump appointees to be unanimously confirmed by the Senate. The president has been telling associates he's seriously considering firing Shulkin if the situation further deteriorates.

The sources have cautioned that Trump will make the ultimate decision about all staff changes. Shulkin has said publicly that high-level political appointees installed by the White House are scheming to oust him over personality and policy differences.

Perry should get a relatively easy ride on confirmation if Shulkin gets dumped, in part because he's already been confirmed once, and in part because the Senate might want to see someone else at Energy.

Two administration officials told The Associated Press that Shulkin's position is growing more precarious and that he could be out of a job within the week, but cautioned that nothing was finalized. Following the meeting at the White House, Shulkin conducted an interview with The New York Times, in which he claimed the White House granted him approval to remove staffers who did not support him. He's a veteran and has a long track record of executive achievement as a four-term governor of Texas, and has more instincts for disruption and reform than Shulkin. Several sources inside and outside the White House say they expect McMaster to leave this week and, in all likelihood, return to the Army with the anticipation that the three-star general will be given a fourth star.