Shulkin: White House blocked me from publicly responding to accusations

Ousted Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinTrump sent policy pitch from Mar-a-Lago member to VA secretary: report Is a presidential appointment worth the risk? It’s time to end the scare tactics and get to work for our veterans MORE said Thursday that an inspector general report laying out his misuse of taxpayer dollars was “mischaracterized” and that he was not given a chance to defend himself.

“There was nothing improper about this trip, and I was not allowed to put up an official statement or to even respond to this by the White House,” Shulkin told NPR.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I think this was really just being used in a political context to try to make sure that I wasn’t as effective as a leader moving forward,” he added.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

Shulkin also speculated to NPR that he was removed from his post because he was against privatizing the VA.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification MORE tweeted Wednesday evening that he intends to replace Shulkin with Adm. Ronny Jackson, who is currently the White House physician.

Shulkin was facing intense scrutiny in recent weeks after an inspector general report found he spent most of his time during a trip to Europe last summer sightseeing rather than conducting official business and improperly accepted tickets to a Wimbledon tennis match as a gift.

It also said a top aide, who has since resigned, altered an email to gain approval to use taxpayer money to pay for Shulkin’s wife to accompany him on the trip.

Shulkin penned an op-ed published Wednesday morning defending his tenure at the VA and railing against the "toxic" and "chaotic" environment in Washington.

"As I prepare to leave government, I am struck by a recurring thought: It should not be this hard to serve your country," he wrote in The New York Times.