WaPo: New VA secretary to shuffle department leadership

Robert Wilkie, the newly minted Veterans Affairs secretary, plans to reassign members of the department’s leadership as one of his first acts on the job, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

The report, citing three people familiar with Wilkie’s plan, said the changes would make way for his own leadership team, and an official close to the White House said Wilkie had discussed the plan with President Donald Trump.

Among those to be reassigned, according to the Post, would be Peter O’Rourke, who became acting secretary of the department after Wilkie’s nomination in May, which followed the ouster of Secretary David Shulkin in March and the failed nomination of Ronny Jackson, the presidential physician.

News of the planned changes at the massive department came just one day ahead of Wilkie’s expected swearing-in after his confirmation in the Senate last week by a vote of 86 to 9.

Shulkin was ousted from the department in March amid an ongoing debate about its direction, with some voices pushing for privatizing services and critics questioning Shulkin’s personal ethics and staff. O’Rourke likewise has faced criticism over reported politically motivated staff reassignments under his tenure.

The expected changes in leadership would be in part to quell concerns from lawmakers that the department had become politicized, according to the Post.