A friend of President Donald Trump said Sunday that the president has told him that he expects to make one or two more major personnel changes in his administration soon, amid mounting signs that Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is on the way out.
Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax, said others in the White House, but not Trump, have told him that Shulkin is “likely to depart the Cabinet very soon.”
Ruddy, who speaks frequently to Trump, said on ABC News’ “This Week” that Trump believes that, on the whole, the White House is operating “like a smooth machine” and has been “perplexed” by news reports of chaos.
“He did say that he’s expecting to make one or two major changes to his government very soon,” Ruddy said.
The Ruddy interview aired as Trump was spending the weekend here at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
While here, Trump told associates that he plans to oust Shulkin, according to people familiar with the conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid.
Trump also said he wants to keep two other senior administration officials who have been in his crosshairs in recent weeks: his chief of staff, John Kelly, and his housing secretary, Ben Carson.
Ruddy offered the same assessment of Kelly and Carson on ABC.
A physician and former hospital executive who won unanimous confirmation by the Senate last year, Shulkin, 58, had been a favorite of Trump’s, racking up legislative victories and fast changes at an agency against which the president railed on the campaign trail.
But months of turmoil in the department’s senior ranks have roiled the second-largest federal bureaucracy, which employs 360,000 people. Shulkin has said publicly that high-level political appointees installed by the White House are scheming to oust him over personality and policy differences.
While in Florida, Trump also continued to attack Rex Tillerson, saying in conversations with associates that the recently deposed secretary of state did not have the “brains or energy” for the job. Trump seems to still be infuriated by Tillerson, according to a person who spoke with the president.
Trump, according to associates, also complained about the media attention that porn star Stormy Daniels is receiving, calling the entire episode a “hoax” that opponents are using to attack him. He asked one friend how Daniels, who is scheduled to appear Sunday night on CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” was going to affect his poll numbers.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · John Wagner, Josh Dawsey