Why VA Secretary Has Posted Armed Guard Outside His Office
'Nobody trusts each other'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2018 1:11 PM CST
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin arrives for a news conference at the Washington Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, Wednesday, March 7, 2018.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – To say things are strained at the VA would be a massive understatement. That's the thrust of a report from the Washington Post, which interviewed 16 Trump administration officials and others. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has lost trust in his senior staff and may be facing a mutiny. He's attempted to fire at least six members of his senior management, and some officials are pushing the White House to remove him. It's gotten so bad Shulkin has posted an armed guard outside his office, banned staffers he thinks are against him from his executive suite, stopped meeting with political appointees of President Trump, and hasn't spoken to his public-affairs chief in weeks. “Things have come to a grinding halt,” a senior manager says. “It’s killing the agency. Nobody trusts each other.”

There are a number of issues at play outside of personality differences. For one, Shulkin is the only Obama administration official to get a post in Trump's Cabinet. There's also the report stating that taxpayers were misled into paying for Shulkin's wife to join him on a 10-day European vacation. But most recently Shulkin has upset some in the White House by pushing for a compromise on the Trump-supported plan to allow veterans to choose private doctors that will still be paid for by the VA. There's fear among veterans groups and unions that the plan will lead to downsizing at the agency. However, some see Shulkin's unwillingness to buy in fully with that plan as reluctance to "drain the swamp." Read the full story here for why the national director of veterans affairs for the country's biggest veterans group says what's happening is "salacious conspiracy and ... treason."

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