Jackson has served since 2013 as the physician to the president, one of the people in closest proximity to Trump day in and day out.
His profile rose after he conducted a sweeping press conference about the president’s medical exam in January in which he impressed Trump with his camera-ready demeanor and deft navigation of reporters’ questions as he delivered a rosy depiction of the president’s health, according to a person familiar with the president’s thinking but not authorized to discuss private conversations.
Jackson eagerly embraced the idea of moving to the VA, according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters. Ironically, it was Shulkin who had recommended Jackson for an undersecretary position at the agency in fall. Jackson was vetted during that time on his policy positions and other issues, the official said.
The promotion of Jackson marks the latest Trump hire to be driven at least as much by personal familiarity with the president as by his vision for the role at government’s second-largest department, responsible for 9 million military veterans in more than 1,700 government-run health facilities.