Trump will nominate Robert Wilkie to become permanent VA secretary

  • President Donald Trump on Friday said acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie will be nominated to lead the VA.
  • Wilkie has led the Department of Veterans Affairs in an acting role after David Shulkin departed in March.
  • White House physician Ronny Jackson, withdrew his nomination in April following allegations of misconduct.

President Donald Trump on Friday said Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie will be nominated to permanently lead the government agency.

Trump made the announcement at the start of a speech focused on prison reform at the White House.

Wilkie has led the Department of Veterans Affairs in an acting role after David Shulkin departed in March. Shulkin's would-be successor, White House physician Ronny Jackson, withdrew his nomination in April following allegations of misconduct.

In his remarks Friday, Trump said Wilkie had done an "incredible job" stepping into the role at the head of the second-largest agency in the federal government.

Trump also indicated that his announcement was the first time Wilkie had heard he would be nominated to lead the Veterans Affairs department.

"I'll be informing him in a little while, he doesn't know this yet, that we're going to be putting his name up for nomination to be secretary of the veterans' administration," Trump said.

"I'm sorry that I ruined the surprise," Trump joked.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. The Veterans Affairs Department referred questions to the White House.

Shulkin had come under intense scrutiny following the release of an internal watchdog's report showing Shulkin's use of taxpayer money for a trip he took to Europe with his wife in 2017, among other criticisms.

Trump, in a pair of tweets, had thanked Shulkin for his service and announced his intention to nominate Jackson, a Navy rear admiral, to lead the department. He also announced Wilkie's appointment as acting VA secretary in the tweets.

Jackson's nomination process was plagued by allegations he drank on the job and handed out prescription medications without proper discretion.

Jackson denied the allegations, saying they were "completely false and fabricated" in a statement at the time he withdrew his nomination. He said he was pulling out of the process because of the distraction it had caused Trump.