President Donald Trump has announced Robert Wilkie, acting secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, as his nominee to lead the department, CNN and other news outlets reported Friday. Currently the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, Wilkie has served as acting VA secretary since the late March firing of David Shulkin.
“Acting Secretary Wilkie — who, by the way, has done an incredible job at the VA, and 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 at a White House event.
Addressing Wilkie in the audience, President Trump added, “I’m sorry that I ruined the surprise.”
The announcement comes seven weeks after the withdrawal of Trump’s previous nominee, White House physician Ronny Jackson, who became dogged with allegations of professional impropriety.
While acting secretary, Wilkie oversaw the Thursday-announced approval of a potential 10-year, $10 billion contract awarded to Cerner, for helping the VA deploy the same electronic health record platform as the Defense Department.
Wilkie has served as a Pentagon staffer for secretaries of defense Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates.