Trump eyes Rick Perry to replace VA secretary

US President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Tuesday. — AFP

US President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Tuesday. — AFP

Trump raised the idea with Perry on Monday, according to a number of news outlets that cited unidentified White House officials, but has not offered him the job so far. After their meeting, Shulkin told The New York Times that he had the full confidence of the White House to fire staffers he felt were disloyal to him. "Did I do the right job with Rick?" the president said to applause.

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.

He came under scrutiny last month for what an internal VA report called "serious derelictions" in a trip he took to Europe.

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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 a year ago. The energy department did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the report, nor did the White House. Per Axios's Jonathan Swan, back in February, Shulkin met with Chief of Staff John Kelly, who agreed to lend him a hand with staffing woes-not to authorize a so-called purge.

Coffman, a Colorado Republican who is a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, on February 28 wrote to Trump and asked him to fire Shulkin after an inspector general report found Shulkin improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets on a trip to Europe, lied about the trip, and that an aide doctored emails so Shulkin's wife could travel with him. Engaged in an all-out cold war with senior staffers, Shulkin managed to avoid the axe following accusations that he misused taxpayer funds to bring his wife on a European vacation.

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