President Trump has named White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson to head the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
Trump made the announcement on Twitter this Wednesday after the ouster of David Shulkin, who formerly held the position. The change comes on the heels of a whirlwind of shuffling in the White House. Both national security advisor H.R. McMaster and secretary of state Rex Tillerson were recently fired by Trump.
Jackson has treated all three presidents who’ve occupied the White House since 2006. He was officially designated physician to the president by Barack Obama in 2013.
After examining Trump for his routine annual physical earlier this year, Jackson declared the president’s health—including his mental state—as “excellent.” However, he did recommend that the commander in chief switch to a healthier diet and do more exercise.
If confirmed as secretary of veteran affairs, Jackson will be in charge of managing 370,000 employees offering care to some 20 million veterans.
Trump's personal physician is taking over a bureaucracy w/ 360K employees. what could go wrong https://t.co/yII2GhVysm
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) March 28, 2018
The Washington Post characterized Trump’s move as “choosing personal chemistry over traditional qualifications.”
A biography released by the White House shows Jackson is credentialed and experienced in medicine but has no background in management. He nonetheless will be charged with delivering on one of Trump’s signature campaign promises: to fix the federal government’s second-largest bureaucracy.
Trump prizes relationships and loyalty over traditional qualifications, and he quickly developed personal chemistry with Jackson. The boss admires the man he calls “The Doc,” according to aides, and cheered Jackson’s on-camera performance in the press briefing room in January, where he delivered the results of Trump’s annual physical as “very, very good” and “excellent.”
Jackson once seemed to reinforce Trump’s high opinion of himself, telling reporters that the President received a perfect score on a cognitive exam.
“He’s very sharp, and he’s very articulate when he speaks to me, and I’ve never known him to repeat himself around me,” Jackson said. “I’ve found no reason whatsoever to think the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought process.”
Featured image via screen grab/YouTube