President Donald Trump made a "surprise" announcement that he will nominate Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to take the reins as the next secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Trump made the announcement during a White House summit on prison reform on Friday.
“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. "I’m sorry that I ruined the surprise.”
Wilkie, who is the former Department of Defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness, has overseen the agency since the ouster of VA Secretary David Shulkin in March.
The selection comes after Trump's previous pick, White House physician Ronny Jackson, M.D., withdrew his name from consideration. Jackson had been the source of controversy after current and former White House staff alleged that he drank excessively and dispensed medication inappropriately. The claims led the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to delay Jackson's confirmation hearing.
Jackson said the allegations are "completely false and fabricated."
The pick was not expected to be popular with some veterans groups. Earlier this month, a group of veterans filed a lawsuit saying Trump acted "unlawfully" when he nominated Wilkie to serve as acting VA secretary and passed over Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Thomas Bowman for the interim post.