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No. 2 VA official fired

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Deputy Secretary James Byrne was fired on Monday, just five months after being confirmed for the job by the Senate.

“Today, I dismissed VA Deputy Secretary James Byrne due to loss of confidence in Mr. Byrne’s ability to carry out his duties. This decision is effective immediately,” VA Secretary Robert WilkieRobert Leon WilkieOvernight Defense: National Guard says no federal requests for election security help | Dems accuse VA head of misusing resources | Army official links COVID-19 to troop suicides Democrats accuse VA head of misusing resources to stump for Trump, vulnerable GOP senators Atlantic editor: Reporting on Trump comments about fallen service members has only just begun MORE said in a statement.

The statement provided no elaboration on why Wilkie lost confidence in Byrne or the circumstances surrounding his ouster. A VA spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for elaboration.

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A White House spokesman confirmed that Byrne was no longer working for the administration but otherwise directed questions to the VA.

The Senate confirmed Byrne as the No. 2 official at the department in a bipartisan vote of 81-11 last September. The leadership position had been vacant for more than a year before his confirmation, though Byrne had filled the position in an acting capacity since August 2018.

Prior to becoming deputy secretary, Byrne served as the VA’s general counsel.

The news of his firing was first reported by Axios.