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Trump replaces embattled Veterans Affairs secretary with White House physician

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But the fight had become increasingly personal, particularly in the wake of an inspector general’s report in February that found taxpayers had picked up the tab for Shulkin’s wife when she accompanied him on a European business trip. That provided ammunition to Shulkin’s foes, and because he didn’t trust the Trump-appointed communications staff around him, he retained his own public-relations counsel.

Shulkin’s camp came to believe that Trump political appointees were trying to get him fired, according to reports. He sought White House permission to dismiss them, telling The New York Times earlier this month that he had secured that authority from Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

On Thursday, Shulkin spoke out about his departure in an interview with NPR, and blasted efforts to privatize the VA in an op-ed published in The Times.

“I was not against reforming VA, but I was against privatization,” he told NPR, adding that he was not allowed to release a statement through the White House Wednesday.

“We’ve gotten so much done,” he said. “But in the last few months, it really has changed. Not from Congress, but from these internal political appointees that were trying to politicize VA and trying to make sure our progress stopped. It’s been very difficult.”

In the op-ed, he wrote that the reforms he initiated “intensified the ambitions of people who want to put the VA health care in the hands of the private sector.”

“They saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed,” Shulkin wrote. “That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans.”

“As I prepare to leave government, I am struck by a recurring thought: It should not be this hard to serve your country,” he added.

Jackson, for his part, stepped into the media spotlight earlier this year when he briefed the press on the results of Trump’s yearly physical examination. At the time, he deemed Trump “very sharp” mentally and in “excellent” overall health — though he did recommend a better diet and more exercise for the commander-in-chief.

Jackson has no experience steering a bureaucracy. His rise to the top of the government’s second largest agency comes one week after Trump promoted him to rear admiral.

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Rep. Gaetz associate pleads guilty in sex trafficking case

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Biden, first lady release 2020 tax returns, continue ‘almost uninterrupted tradition’

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Despite the specter of an IRS audit, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Monday released their 2020 tax returns.

The first couple made just over $600,000 in 2020, and paid $157,414 in federal income tax, the return shows. That’s a federal income tax rate of 25.9 percent.

The Bidens also paid $28,794 in income tax in their home state of Delaware, reported donating $30,704 to 10 different charities.

In a statement announcing their release, the White House said Biden was “continuing an almost uninterrupted tradition.” The statement noted that Biden has now released 23 years of his tax returns.

The disclosure marks the return of a tradition of presidents making their tax returns public, something every president since Richard Nixon had done until Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, took office.

Trump had said during the presidential campaign and after he won the White House that he couldn’t make his returns public because they were under audit. Trump said the IRS audit had spanned years and that he would release them when the audit is completed.

Presidents and vice presidents have been subjected to mandatory annual audits since the Watergate scandal, which culminated with Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked if Biden would hold off on releasing his returns if the audit was still underway.

“No. I would expect that we will continue to release the president’s tax returns, as should be expected by every president of the United States,” Psaki said.

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff also released their tax returns.

The couple made close to $1.7 million in 2020 and paid $621,893 in federal income tax, a tax rate of 36.7 percent. They also paid $125,004 in California income tax and Emhoff paid $56,997 in tax to the District of Columbia. They reported donating over $27,000 to charity.

The bulk of their income came from Emhoff, who worked as an entertainment and media lawyer. He resigned from the law firm after the election and is now teaching at Georgetown Law.

While Harris’ predecessor, Mike Pence, released 10 years of tax returns during the 2016 election, he followed Trump’s lead and did not release his returns during his four years as vice president.

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Verhofstadt's attempt to one up UK on Twitter torn apart: 'EU citizens never get a say!'

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GUY VERHOFSTADT’s attempt to get one up on the UK by suggesting fleeing Hong Kongers looking for a fresh start abroad should choose the EU rather than Britain has been torn apart on Twitter.

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