If you don’t remember the name Peter O’Rourke, don’t feel too bad about it. He went from a Trump campaign press guy to a posh spot in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and by “posh spot” we mean he jumped from scandal to scandal as Team Trump did their apparent level best to bring the whole department down around their ears.
He was made the head of a new “Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection” that appears to have been mostly used as a tool to purge low-level employees. He soon switched to becoming Trump’s chosen VA secretary David Shulkin’s chief of staff, after Shulkin’s prior chief of staff resigned; after Shulkin was tossed from the job (for, he says, opposing Team Trump’s agenda of privatization) O’Rourke became the new acting secretary, a pretty good gig for a campaign flack; after Trump’s next nominee, White House doctor Ronny Jackson, went down in flames O’Rourke became new pick Robert Wilkie’s “senior adviser,” with no apparent duties and an apparently dwindling motivation to show up for work.
He has now been canned, ending one of the weirder, more scandal-adjacent tenures of Team Trump’s tattered tenure, and that is saying something.
O’Rourke was rarely in his office at VA headquarters in Washington, according to four people with knowledge of the arrangement, and by last week White House officials had grown concerned that O’Rourke was getting paid but not working, creating a perception problem in a corner of the government where the president has promised greater accountability.
Just to be clear on this, the VA has suffered from widespread vacancies and despair-related retirements, there appears to be no end to department scandals and the agency is currently being pilloried for botching up G.I. Bill benefits so badly that some veterans may never see their full promised payments. O’Rourke’s defense, however, was to say that “there were times I didn’t have a lot to do.” Self-motivated, he is not.
Anyhoo, he has been asked to resign by the aforementioned Wilkie, finally, but according to the Washington Post O’Rourke holds no hard feelings and apparently looks forward to working for Donald in some future capacity, presuming Donald stays out of prison and once again needs a campaign-trail press guy. Consider that swamp drained.