Ex-Obama official: Picking White House physician to run VA is ‘like having your Uber driver park the space shuttle’

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Former President Obama’s deputy chief of staff Jim Messina on Friday compared this week’s announcement of the White House physician getting tapped as the new secretary of Veterans Affairs to “having your Uber driver park the space shuttle” during an interview on MSNBC. 

The commentary comes after President Trump decided to name Adm. Ronny Jackson to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after firing David Shulkin, a holdover from the Obama administration who was promoted to VA chief under Trump.

“Do you feel like perhaps you guys were held to a different standard?” MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin asked Messina. 

“Oh, completely,” Messina replied. “I mean, there was this great guy who was my doctor when I was in the White House who was the nicest guy, wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, was always kind of a great guy, you know, just kind of hanging around.”

“Donald Trump just made him the VA secretary, right. He has no experience running anything. I loved him, he was my personal doctor,” he continued. 

{mosads}“[But] he’s the worst choice you could possibly imagine for the second-biggest agency,” Messina, who also served as Obama’s campaign manager, concluded. “It’s like having your Uber driver park the space shuttle. This guy has no idea what he’s doing. And because he’s nice and spends a lot of time with the president, he gets his own Cabinet seat.”

The VA is the second largest bureaucracy in the federal government, behind only the Pentagon.

Trump announced the decision on Twitter on Thursday. 

“I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs,” Trump tweeted.

The president thanked Shulkin for “service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS.”

Shulkin was forced out amid scrutiny over his travel, including an email that was reportedly doctored by his chief of staff to gain approval for taxpayer funding for his wife’s travel expenses.

The president also said Robert Wilkie, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, will serve as interim VA secretary until Jackson is confirmed. 

In January, Jackson raised eyebrows in some media circles following an effusive press conference he gave regarding the president’s health, which he described as “excellent” and the result of “good genes.”

Tags David Shulkin Department of Veterans Affairs Donald Trump United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs VA

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