Former Trump VA secretary says staffer found plans to replace him in department copier

Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin said a member of his staff found a memo left on a copy machine that laid out a plan to replace him with officials more closely aligned with the Trump administration’s agenda, NBC News reported.

“Once you’re faced with a piece of paper that a staff member brings you, you can’t really ignore it any further,” Shulkin said. The plan was reportedly designed by a “small number of political appointees” with plans to replace him, his deputy secretary, chief of staff and acting undersecretary.

Shulkin blasts his time in the Trump administration in his new book “It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country,” NBC News reported. He accuses the administration of fostering a toxic culture and personal attacks that endangered care for veterans. 

{mosads} “I’m worried about what public services become and whether people are going to raise their hand and be willing to come to Washington when they see people treated this way,” Shulkin said.

Shulkin said last year that he was fired from his position via a tweet from President Trump. A 2018 VA inspector general report found that Shulkin misused government resources by accepting Wimbledon tickets and airfare for his wife when he took a trip to Europe that cost at least $122,000.

“It was clear that there were a number of messages being sent that you should get yourself politically on board or this will continue to fester and create problems,” Shulkin told NBC News. “I think, quite frankly, all this was leading towards I hope that I would walk away, that this pressure would be too much and that I would resign. And, of course, I had no intent of doing that.”  

White House spokesperson Judd Deere dismissed Shulkin’s new claims about Trump.

“Because of this President’s leadership, veterans now have choice in their care, VA employees are being held accountable for poor performance, and the agency has secured $86.5 billion in funding, the largest dollar amount in its history,” he said in a statement to The Hill. “While the former VA secretary chooses to profit off his time in office and share outlandish claims about his private conversations with the President, President Trump remains focused on ensuring veterans receive the care they have earned through their incredible sacrifice for our Nation.”

Shulkin added that, during his time in office, he had to correct President Trump on reportedly inaccurate information given to him by advisers, although he did not specify which advisers he was targeting.

“The president was getting information from outside people that directly conflicts with the people who are put in that job to give him information,” Shulkin told NBC News.

“I appreciated when the president would call me and say, ‘David, this is what I’m hearing. You know you know, why is this happening?’ I’d say, ‘Well, Mr. President, that’s actually not what’s happening. Here’s the correct information,’” Shulkin said.

Last year, Propublica reported that a group of three wealthy men named “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd” were given unprecedented access to confidential documents and widely shaped policy within the VA. The group was made up of Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach physician Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman. The men have denied the reports.

–This report was updated on Nov. 4 at 10:33 a.m.

Tags David Shulkin Donald Trump

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