AP Source: Trump considering head of VA medical association


WASHINGTON (AP) – The White House is considering the head of a veterans’ medical association as it reviews potential candidates to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A White House official said Dr. Samuel Spagnolo, the president of the National Association of Veterans Affairs Physicians and Dentists, plans to meet with White House staff next week about the VA vacancy. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.

President Donald Trump is seeking a nominee to lead the VA after White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson withdrew his nomination for the post.

White House officials this week met with former Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican who once led the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Ron Nichol, a senior adviser to The Boston Consulting Group, who helped organize the president’s transition.

Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, a former Pentagon undersecretary for personnel and readiness, is also under consideration for the post.

Trump may meet with potential contenders for VA secretary next week, the official said.

Spagnolo is a George Washington University Medical School professor who has had several academic and administrative appointments to the VA since 1972. According to his biography, Spagnolo served as the medical chest consultant to President Ronald Reagan following the president’s attempted assassination in 1981.

The White House has been searching for the right person to lead the massive federal agency with 360,000 employees serving 9 million veterans. Trump chose Jackson for the post in March after firing former Obama administration official David Shulkin following an ethics scandal.

Jackson withdrew last week amid allegations related to his workplace practices, including improperly prescribing medication. Trump has complained that Jackson, who denied the allegations, faced unfair attacks on his character.


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