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Trump's New Pick for VA Is Much Less Controversial

Acting director Robert Wilkie asked to lead the agency permanently
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 18, 2018 12:04 PM CDT
President Trump shakes hands with Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie during an event on prison reform in the East Room of the White House, Friday, May 18, 2018.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie is President Trump's pick to permanently lead the beleaguered department. Wilkie is a former Pentagon undersecretary for personnel and readiness, and a former adviser to GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina. He's led the agency for two months, ever since Trump fired David Shulkin amid an internal revolt and questions about his compliance with ethics rules, reports the AP. Wilkie appeared in the White House press briefing room Thursday to accept a check for the amount of Trump's first-quarter salary, which he donated to the agency. Trump revealed his decision during a prison reform event at the White House.

Trump previously nominated White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson for the job, but Jackson withdrew last month. Politico sees Wilkie's path to confirmation as much smoother than Jackson's, though it points out one potential wrinkle: Wilkie was one of three congressional aides present when Trump's campaign supported ditching a provision in the GOP's 2016 platform that called for tough action against Russia. Robert Mueller's team is reportedly looking into that campaign decision.

(Read more Department of Veterans Affairs stories.)

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