White House says Trump has confidence in Shulkin 'at this point in time'

While reports as late as Sunday said the VA Secretary was out, the White House Deputy Press Secretary says the president currently has no plans to let him go – although "that could change."
By Jessica Davis
01:54 PM
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VA Secretary David Shulkin

President Donald Trump still has confidence in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, MD, despite claims Shulkin could be out as early as some point this week, according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley. 

“We all serve at the pleasure of the president. If he is not pleased, you‘ll know it,” Gidley said in a Fox News interview Monday morning. “At this point in time, though, he does have confidence in Dr. Shulkin. He is a secretary and he has done some great things at the VA.”

For the past month, rumors have circulated around agency infighting and speculated that Shulkin may have fallen from Trump’s graces.

[Also: With David Shulkin under fire, what's next for the VA's EHR modernization?]

The rumors stem from a VA Office Inspector General report that alleged the secretary misused federal funds on a European work trip this summer and from Shulkin telling the media he was given the power to fire underperforming staff, although there was no approval to do so.

Shulkin just last week apologized for the distractions these allegations have caused while pushing forward on the agency’s electronic health record and other IT modernization plans.

On Sunday night, however, AP reported that sources familiar with the situation said Shulkin could be out this week.

[Also: Department of Veterans Affairs looks to private developers for innovation]

But when pressed this morning, Gidley remained firm. 

“When the president wants to make a change, he will make it. He doesn't have to try, he doesn't have to guess. He has the power to do so whether he has a replacement or not, he can still make a change,” Gidley added. “The president wants to put the best people around him to execute his policy.” 

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com