White House: Trump has 'full confidence' in presidential physician to lead VA

White House: Trump has 'full confidence' in presidential physician to lead VA
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir MORE has "full confidence" in White House physician Ronny Jackson's ability to head the Veterans Affairs (VA)Department, a spokeswoman for the White House said Thursday, despite reported concerns from some aides. 

"As I said earlier, the president has full confidence in Adm. Jackson," White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told reporters.

"The president did have some early individuals that he was looking at but continuously went back to Dr. Jackson to fulfill this role as VA secretary and ultimately decided that his health care experience, his distinguished career in the medical profession, was something that would be beneficial at the VA," she continued.


"At the end of the day, as I said earlier, the status quo was not working. We need somebody who understands the health care system," she said.

Trump continued a spate of shake-ups in his Cabinet on Wednesday by dismissing VA Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinFormer Trump VA secretary says staffer found plans to replace him in department copier VA under pressure to ease medical marijuana rules Press: Acosta, latest to walk the plank MORE and tapping Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy and the current White House physician, for the role. 

The New York Times reported Wednesday that some White House aides had privately expressed concern about the decision to nominate Jackson for the VA's top job, because of his lack of experience managing a large organization. 

At the same time, some aides acknowledged that Trump's relationship with Jackson carried more weight in making the decision than the physician's prior experience, the Times reported. Jackson gave Trump his first physical in office earlier this year.

Walters told reporters Thursday that Jackson "has bipartisan respect" in Congress, and said his experience in the Navy gives him an insight into "what soldiers need on the battlefield and what they need when they come home as veterans."

She also said the decision to oust Shulkin and nominate Jackson was in no way part of an effort to privatize veterans' health care, as Shulkin had implied in an op-ed he wrote the day after his ouster.