Trump took to Twitter Wednesday evening to announce the ouster of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, marking the third time this month that Trump has fired a top Cabinet official via tweet.
In a series of tweets posted just after 5:30 p.m., Trump said he planned to nominate “highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs.”
“In the interim, Hon. Robert Wilkie of DOD will serve as Acting Secretary,” Trump tweeted. “I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin’s service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS!”
Trump’s new nominee for VA secretary, Ronny Jackson, currently works as the White House doctor. Earlier this year, the White House appeared to fake a doctor’s note from Jackson after he performed a physical exam on Trump.
Shulkin’s firing doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. He is one of several Cabinet secretaries embroiled in scandal for misusing taxpayer dollars to pay for personal expenses including lavish hotel stays and vacations — though in the Trump administration, abuse of tax dollars is far from a fireable offense.
Nor is it surprising that Trump chose to blurt out the news of Shulkin’s ouster on Twitter.
Trump debuted his fire-by-tweet method in July, when he announced that he would be replacing then-chief of staff Reince Priebus with John Kelly.
More recently, Trump announced in a tweet two weeks ago that he was firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The White House tried to spin the story, saying that Tillerson had been advised of his ouster before Trump blurted it out on Twitter. A State Department official knocked down that narrative when he publicly confirmed that Tillerson had only found out about his firing after Trump tweeted about it. That employee was promptly fired for contradicting the White House.
Trump also took to Twitter to announce the ouster of his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, less than a week ago.
While not surprising, none of this is normal. Firing people and intentionally creating chaos may make for good reality TV, but it makes the U.S. government look dysfunctional — and in this case, looks are not deceiving.