Former VA Secretary David Shulkin Swears 'I Can't Quit, You Fired Me!'
Good Monday, Wonkers! What has the Fuck Up Administration been up to over the weekend? Well! Last Wednesday, the President took to Twitter to announce that Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was getting You're Fired and would be replaced with the White House doctor as one does. Until Dr. Ronny Jackson gets confirmed -- if he gets confirmed at all -- Trumpland is shifting Defense Department Undersecretary Robert Wilkie in as acting Secretary of the VA. Presumably Wilkie is down with Trumpland's plans to privatize care for 9 million veterans and send them to CVS Minute Clinics for all their PTSD and physical therapy needs.
WAIT, CAN THEY DO THAT?
Well, maybe not! Seems that Trump is better at shit-tweeting than reading the fine print of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FRVA). (Although you'd think he had some experience in it by now.) The law gives the president wide latitude to name a replacement for an agency head,
If an officer of an Executive agency (including the Executive Office of the President, and other than the General Accounting Office) whose appointment to office is required to be made by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office.
If Trump wasn't a lunatic asshole who liked to shout "You're Fired!" on Twitter, he would have gone to Shulkin and demanded his resignation. But he didn't. So now he has A PROBLEM. Because it's not at all clear that he can name Wilkie as Acting Secretary, since Shulkin didn't die, resign, or become incapacitated. If courts find that Trump illegally installed Wilkie, then every action he's taken as Acting Secretary will be legally null and void. So for however many months it takes to sort this out in the courts, the VA will be in chaos.
The White House Brain Trust has reacted with exactly as much skill and tact as you'd expect. The AP reports that Trumpland is now insisting that Shulkin DID TOO resign by being a bad hombre.
On Sunday, chagrined by Shulkin’s public statements blaming his ouster on unfair “political forces” in the Trump administration, the White House circulated a “talking points” memo to some veterans groups in a bid to discredit him. The three-page memo, obtained by The Associated Press, points out seven “lies” that it said Shulkin had spread.
Sure he never submitted an actual letter of resignation and wasn't even permitted to clean out his office. But he was terrible, see, and that's the same thing, right?
We at Wonkette have pointed out Shulkin's ethical lapses, too. He really did fuck up royally. But an administration that keeps Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke around is in no position to be sanctimonious. If this was about something other than wanting to privatize the VA, a move opposed by the nation's veterans groups, then they'd have made Shulkin's deputy Tom Bowman Acting Secretary. Instead they're shunting in some guy from DOD until Dr. Ronny gets confirmed. And frankly, we wouldn't bet on the good doctor making it through Senate confirmation, since veterans groups are not excited to have a guy who's never even run a hospital put in charge of a $200 billion agency with 380,000 employees responsible for delivering medical care to 9 million vets in 1,231 medical centers. No, not even if he thinks the president has "incredible genes."
This is going to get ugly fast. And President Impulse Control has no one to blame but himself.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.