Shulkin says he was forced out as VA secretary


WASHINGTON – David Shulkin said Sunday he was forced out as secretary of Veterans Affairs and did not resign as the White House claimed.

“I came to the VA because our men and women in the country fight for us and don’t give up,” Shulkin said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And I came to fight for our veterans. And I had no intention of giving up. There would be no reason for me to resign. I made a commitment. I took an oath. And I was here to fight for our veterans.”

Trump announced on Twitter last Wednesday that his personal White House doctor, Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, would be his new nominee for VA secretary.

Trump said Thursday he wanted the change because “I wasn’t happy with the speed with which our veterans were taken care of.”

Shulkin went on media blitz in the days since, claiming he was ousted because Trump ‘s political appointees who want to privatize veterans’ health services made it impossible for him to succeed.

The White House offered a different explanation Saturday and told Politico that Shulkin “resigned from his position.”

Shulkin said the firing was “somewhat of a surprise” especially since he had spoken to Trump earlier and “we had set up a meeting for the very next day.”

He was ultimately given a heads up about the tweet from White House chief of staff John Kelly.

Shulkin told CNN’s “State of the Union” he’s proud of the progress he made but blamed opposition from political appointees “who used subversive techniques to be able to change leadership at the VA.”

Leading to Shulkin’s demise was a report by the agency’s independent inspector general that found misuse of VA resources during Shulkin’s $122,000 trip to Europe last year with his wife where they attended Wimbledon.

Shulkin downplayed the report and said it was used as political ammunition to oust him.

“I do believe that there were no ethical violations here, that this was being used in a political context to exploit the situation,” Shulkin said Sunday. “And I do believe that the issue at hand is the future of VA and whether it’s going to be privatized or not.”

Lawmakers in the Senate on Sunday expressed concern about Shulkin’s ouster and his replacement.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) took issue with Trump’s Twitter dismissal of Shulkin.

“It’s not the way I’d do it,” Johnson told “Meet the Press. “The president needs to understand the effect it has on attracting other people.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) urged the Senate to reject any Shulkin replacement who wants to privatize the agency.

“I will do everything I can as a member of the veterans committee not to approve any nominee who is not going to strengthen the VA and who will oppose privatization,” Sanders told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

For his part, Shulkin offered this advice to Jackson, his chosen successor: “This is a very tough job. … I think that he is going to need to have a good team around him.”


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