JUST IN: Trump Announces New VA Secretary Nominee During WH Summit

UNSPECIFIED - JUNE 06: Close-up of fruits and vegetables on the table (Photo by DEA / P.MARTINI/De Agostini/Getty Images)

On Friday, President Trump announced a new nominee to lead the Veterans Affairs Administration.

During a summit on prison reform at the White House, Trump nominated Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to head the agency. Trump reportedly did not mention his decision to Wilkie ahead of announcing it to the crowd.

Per USA Today:

“He doesn’t know this yet,” Trump said during a White House event Friday “I’m sorry that I ruined the surprise.”

The president said Trump said Wilkie “has done an incredible job at the VA.”

The White House plucked him from the Pentagon to take the post. He is currently under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

The VA put out a statement at the time hailing Wilkie for getting everyone at the agency on the same page after a tumultuous few months, when Shulkin had been feuding with a group of political appointees at the agency.

“Under Acting Secretary Wilkie’s leadership, senior VA officials are now on the same page, speaking with one voice to Veterans, employees and outside stakeholders, such as Congress and veterans service organizations, and are focused on a number of key priorities in the short term,” VA press secretary Curt Cashour said.

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Opening his speech, Trump addressed the tragic shooting incident at a Texas high school where at least eight people have been killed.

“Unfortunately I have to begin by expressing our sadness and heartbreak over the deadly shooting in Texas,” he said, per Fox News. “We send prayers and support for everyone affected in the horrific attack.

“This has been going on too long in our country. Too many years. Too many decades now,” Trump added, as CNN reports. “We grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our support to everyone affected by this absolutely horrific attack.”

“May God heal the injured and may God comfort the wounded and may God be with the victims and with the victims’ families. Very sad day. Very, very sad.”

As White House Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Thursday, Trump will be donating his first quarter salary to the VA.

Per Associated Press:

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders presented a check from the president to acting VA secretary Robert Wilkie during the White House briefing on Thursday.

Trump has pledged to return his entire salary to the federal government, and has used the symbolic check handover quarterly to highlight his administration’s policy efforts.

The VA has been rocked by turmoil in recent months, including by the March firing of former secretary David Shulkin amid ethics concerns and internal discord. Trump’s nominee to fill the post, White House doctor Ronny Jackson, withdrew from consideration last month.

And, via the Hill:

Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie attended Thursday’s press briefing to accept the donation. He said the money will go toward mental health and peer support programs, financial aid and research that will assist individuals who care for veterans.

“The president’s gift underscores his promise to do all he can for vets, which includes supporting those who care for veterans. Not just those of us at VA, but the husbands, the wives, the families and the community caregivers who are out there day in and day out,” Wilkie said.


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