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Trump friend: Staff changes soon; Shulkin on shaky ground

28 March 2018

The officials demanded anonymity to discuss a sensitive personnel matter.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpParkland student encourages protesters to "keep screaming at your own congressman" Seven most memorable moments from "March for Our Lives" Trump considering expelling 20 Russian diplomats over chemical attacks: report MORE is preparing to fire Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinWhite House aides planned to announce McMaster with other departures: report Bannon: If Kelly leaves White House, Trump won't replace him Kimmel: Trump goes through Cabinet members like cheeseburgers, hair spray MORE, according to a report from The Associated Press.

Gidley says, "At this point in time, though, he does have confidence in Dr. Shulin".

Ruddy said other White House sources, not Trump himself, signaled that Shulkin will be out, while Trump is "happy" with Carson and Kelly, whose tenures also have faced open speculation in recent weeks.

According to administration officials who spoke with the AP, Shulkin will be pushed out of the White House this week, with one saying the odds of it happening in the next few days are "50-50".

'He did say that he's expecting to make one or two major changes, ' said Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, who spoke with Trump over the weekend, on ABC's This Week.

Ruddy said Trump is "perplexed" by the reports of chaos after a wave of firings and policy shifts and thinks the White House is operating "like a smooth machine".

But Gidley is dismissing reports of Shulkin's imminent dismissal.

Shulkin did not respond to a request for comment Sunday. A separate internal investigation, looking into an allegation that Shulkin had his office's security detail come with him to Home Depot and carry furniture, is set to be released in coming weeks. One person familiar with the White House discussions told the AP on Sunday that the White House was looking closely at roughly half a dozen candidates to head the VA, the government's second-largest department with 370,000 employees.

The potential replacements include Hegseth, a former military officer and former CEO of the conservative Concerned Veterans for America; former Rep. Jeff Miller, who had been chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee; retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; Michael Kussman, a former VA undersecretary of health; Toby Cosgrove, a former president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic; and Leo Mackay Jr., a former VA deputy secretary who is now senior vice president at Lockheed Martin Corp.

The spokesperson added, "President Trump tasked Secretary Shulkin with reforming the VA so it could better serve the men and women who sacrificed to protect our country".

Last week, as replacement rumors swirled around him, Shulkin did not appear at a major veterans' event Friday held at the White House to preview a film. Bowman has also come under criticism at the White House for being too moderate to push Trump's agenda of fixing veterans' care. President Trump has called attention to issues in Veteran Affairs before, calling the department "the most corrupt".

Continued funding of the choice program and the expansion of the VA's caregiver program, providing stipends to family members who care for severely disabled vets, were left out of the $1.3 trillion omnibus government spending package Trump signed last week after threatening a veto.

Trump friend: Staff changes soon; Shulkin on shaky ground