Fox News host Pete Hegseth was dialed into the Oval Office by President Donald Trump during a meeting with Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin to opine on legislation to reform the VA system, according to Axios.
Hegseth, who co-hosts Fox & Friends Weekend, formerly was CEO of a conservative organization Concerned Veterans for America, which was identified in 2014 by The Washington Post as “part of the ... billionaire industrialist Koch brothers' political network." The Post also reported that the organization was “backed by a donor network organized by the industrialists Charles and David Koch” that raised $400 million during the 2012 election cycle.
During the Trump administration’s transition in December 2016, Hegseth openly auditioned for the VA secretary position amid reports that he was one of the top contenders for the position. Though he failed to be nominated, he has since been helping Republican Party organizations fundraise, and has interviewed Trump on Fox several times.
According to Axios, Trump “talks to Hegseth regularly and enjoys watching him on Fox & Friends.” Axios also reported that Trump is “finally losing patience with” Shulkin, which could make Hegseth a contender for the post again. From Axois’ March 11 report (emphasis original):
Right after his meeting with Kelly, Shulkin was brought into the Oval Office to talk to Trump. The conversation quickly turned to discussing important legislation to reform the VA health care system.
- Trump surprised Shulkin by dialing in Fox & Friends host Pete Hegseth on speaker phone to get his opinion of the legislation, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation.
- The Trump administration is debating a few different bills and trying to reconcile them. Conservatives prefer a bill pushed by Sen. Jerry Moran, while moderates prefer legislation pushed by Sen. Johnny Isakson.
- The Hegseth call put Shulkin in an awkward spot, according to those sources. Hegseth competed for Shulkin's job and favors more aggressive reform for the VA. Trump talks to Hegseth regularly and enjoys watching him on Fox and Friends.