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U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin testifies during a hearing before the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of House Appropriations Committee March 15, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. On Wednesday, President Trump declared Shulkin's tenure was over and he announced a new nominee to fill the post. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sanders Warns Against VA Privatization After Trump Tweets Shulkin's Ouster

"Every major veterans’ organization in this country vigorously opposes the privatization of the VA," said Senator Bernie Sanders in response. "I stand with them."

Jon Queally

Amid concerns that his administration wants to move more aggressively to privatize the healthcare system that provides for the nation's active and retired military personnel, President Donald Trump took to Twitter later Wednesday afternoon and announced—following weeks of speculation that he was itching to do so—the ouster of Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin.

In Shulkin's place, Trump also announced he was nominating Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD—who has been serving as the president's personal physician—to replace him.

Earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) met the widespread rumors that Shulkin would soon be gone by warning that his departure could be a signal of Trump's growing impatient with his unmet goal of privatizing the VA.

"The struggle at the Veterans Administration is about Trump's desire to privatize the VA and his belief that Secretary David Shulkin is not moving fast enough in that direction," Sanders said on Sunday. "The veterans organizations, representing millions of those who put their lives on the line to defend us, want us to strengthen the VA, not dismember it. The Senate Veterans Committee, on which I serve, must stand with the veterans of our country and oppose all efforts to privatize the VA."

Following Wednesday's announcement, Sanders tweeted:

Not a surprise, as CBS News reporting notes, Shulkin had been under fire for "ethics violations" and the end of his tenure was widely predicted:

Veterans advocates critical of Trump characterized the choice of Jackson to Shulkin as a betrayal:

Others just chalked it up to the latest in a series of cabinet-level departures and high-profile ousters from the president's inner circle in recent weeks—a signature feature of his overall presidency:


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