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White House has no idea why Trump's doctor is qualified to run VA

No one at the White House can explain why Trump tapped a novice to run the sprawling, troubled Department of Veterans Affairs.

By Eric Boehlert - March 29, 2018
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Donald Trump shakes hands with White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson

Enamored with the way White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson regaled reporters with almost comically exaggerated praise of Trump’s health back in January, Jackson has been rewarded for his fandom.

On Wednesday, Trump tapped Jackson to run the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs.

But other than being smitten with Jackson’s public cheerleading, the White House can’t offer any reason for why a doctor with zero management experience would be qualified to run the sprawling federal agency in the U.S. that has been beset by controversy for years.

Nobody “can satisfactorily answer the question of how his personal White House physician is qualified to run the second largest agency in the federal government, and one of the most consequential and dysfunctional institutions in America,” Axios reports.

When pressed on the topic by CNN, a “White House official noted Jackson brings with him both a medical and military background to the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as past praise for his work in previous administrations.”

Appearing on “Fox & Friends” Thursday morning, deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah made a similarly vague claim that “as an active duty member, [Jackson] understands the military.”

But there are approximately two million Americans currently on active duty. Does that make them all qualified to the run the VA?

Even though it was an open secret that Trump wanted to dispose David Shulkin as his VA chief, and for weeks the possible move was discussed in the press, Jackson’s name was virtually never mentioned as a possible replacement.

That might be because White House insiders never considered the obvious novice to be a legitimate candidate — but Trump did.

“A source tells CNN that Mr. Trump has been floating Jackson’s name during recent conversations with advisers but wasn’t taken seriously,” Abby Phillips reported.

This is similar to how the White House handled the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The highly unusual and public dismissal of America’s top diplomat was never explained, other than the suggestion Trump didn’t have good “chemistry” with Tillerson.

That’s not a sufficient reason to dismantle a presidential Cabinet, which is what Trump’s in the process of now doing.


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