That tenor began to change in recent months, as Dr. Shulkin increasingly butted heads with conservative Trump administration officials over one of the White House’s top policy priorities for the department: the expansion of government-subsidized private health care for veterans, outside the government-run V.A. health system.
Since the inspector general report appeared, there have been numerous reports of Shulkin in conflict with others at the VA, several of which have painted Shulkin as a tyrant, demanding his own Trump-style loyalty. But Shulkin is caught up in a fight to even have a VA, and the people around him are Trump appointees dedicated to destroying the institution. That includes the people who are spreading the message of internal conflict.
Dr. Shulkin’s critics in the White House and the department — including his two top communications deputies — worked behind the scenes to try to hasten his ouster. Dr. Shulkin, who disputed the report’s findings, went public with fears that appointees were “trying to undermine the department from within.” He iced out those he viewed as a threat and essentially became his own one-person press office.
Shulkin is not just saddled with lieutenants who are working against him, his own press agency is working to make him look bad. It seems inevitable that he’ll be forced out soon.
And then the VA can be “saved” by someone who will not only go along with every effort to privatize the agency, but grace the medical staff with the same kind of brilliance he demonstrated at the Energy Department.
He had plenty of competition, but Rick Perry has managed to produce perhaps the worst take on sexual assault yet: Fossil fuels are the solution to rape.
Perry’s assertion, first reported by the Hill, is only a little less stupid than it sounds. The energy secretary had recently returned from a trip to Africa when he said in an interview that “people are dying … because of the lack of energy they have there.” (Fine.) He continued, “It’s going to take fossil fuels to push power out into those villages.” (Slightly less fine.) And then the doozy: “But also from the standpoint of sexual assault, when the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts.” (Yikes.)
It’s not clear who Trump has in mind to take over the Energy Department. What’s Scaramucci doing this week?