Trump angry with his Veterans Affairs secretary over travel scandal: report

Trump angry with his Veterans Affairs secretary over travel scandal: report
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE is angry with Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinVeterans group sues to block advisers known as ‘Mar-a-Lago Crowd’ from influencing VA Mar-a-Lago insiders provided input on VA policy, personnel decisions: report Ahead of speech, Kansas City newspaper urges Trump to listen to veterans MORE following a scathing internal report that found the secretary's chief of staff attempted to cover up travel expenses incurred by Shulkin's wife.

CNN reported Saturday that Shulkin spoke with White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE for half an hour on Thursday. The top Trump aide expressed the president's discontent with the inspector general's report, which eventually led to the resignation of Shulkin's own chief of staff.

ADVERTISEMENT

But Shulkin told CNN he was not asked to resign during the meeting with Kelly, and did not offer his resignation himself.

"I'm not going to let the politics of what's going on distract me from doing the job that I came to Washington to do," he told CNN.

Shulkin's meeting with Kelly came a day after he told USA Today he reimbursed the government $4,312 to cover the cost of his wife’s airfare and would reimburse the Invictus Games for tickets he received as well. In a statement, Shulkin stressed that “there was never anything intentional” involved in covering up the expenses.

“We act with the highest ethical character,” Shulkin said. “I relied upon my staff to do this, and in retrospect, I wish that I had asked more questions.”

Shulkin also said that his chief of staff's resignation on Friday was a "personal decision," not necessarily an admission of guilt.

The aide, Virginia Wright Simpson, is alleged to have changed the text on an official email to make it appear that Shulkin had an official reason to take a trip to Europe last year that cost at least $122,000 overall.

She denied making the change and Shulkin has suggested her email was hacked.

"This was a personal decision," Shulkin said. "She just didn't feel that it was the right thing for her and her family to continue in that type of environment."

At least one lawmaker, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), has said Shulkin should resign over the release of the report.