Shulkin: I Really Was Fired. Experts: This Really Matters.

Could Trump be overstepping his bounds?
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 1, 2018 11:28 AM CDT
In this March 7, 2018, file photo, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin speaks at a news conference at the Washington Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

(Newser) – Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is making it clear he was fired from his job amid conflicting claims from the White House, the AP reports. "We actually spoke the day that he sent the tweet out just a few hours before," Shulkin says of President Trump on Meet the Press, per Politico. "And we talked a lot about issues at VA that were important and how we could continue to make progress on policy issues." Yet White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters is telling the AP that Shulkin had resigned from his job when Trump abruptly announced via Twitter last Wednesday that he was nominating White House doctor Ronny Jackson to replace him.

The semantics could be relevant to Trump's ability to name an acting VA secretary to temporarily fill Shulkin's place, reports Politico. At issue is the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, which states that the president can temporarily replace someone at a federal agency if the person leaving "dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office." Some experts say that means the president can't fire and temporarily replace an office holder. In fact actions by Wilkie as acting secretary could be subject to legal challenges. Might Democrats make the unprecedented move of challenging Trump's decision to name Wilkie? "It’s an open question," a legal expert says. "There are ways to read the statute both ways."


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