Trump called ‘Fox & Friends’ host for opinion on veteran care during meeting with VA chief
Shulkin and Trump were discussing legislation to reform veterans’ health care during an Oval Office meeting last week when Trump reportedly called “Fox & Friends” co-host Pete Hegseth to get his opinion.
Hegseth, a veteran and former executive director of advocacy group Vets For Freedom, was among those considered to be VA secretary under Trump. Trump is a frequent viewer of Fox News, including the morning show.
Sources told Axios that the phone call put Shulkin in an uncomfortable spot, as Hegseth is pushing for more intense reforms and interviewed for Shulkin’s job.
The Trump administration has listed veterans’ health care as a top priority.
Trump allies have backed offering veterans more alternatives for health care outside of the agency. However, Shulkin is in favor of a more moderate approach that would only outsource treatment in cases where waiting times are too long or veterans live too far away from agency options.
The incident reported by Axios took place amid tensions between Shulkin and the White House. Shulkin has said that Trump political appointees in the agency are attempting to undermine him, and claims he has White House approval to remove them.
He is also under scrutiny after an inspector general report found that he misused taxpayer dollars during a trip to Europe with his wife last year.
Shulkin has denied wrongdoing, but has reimbursed the government for the trip.