Shulkin calls Washington 'toxic' the day after Trump ouster

Ex-Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin Claims He Was Fired Because Of Privatization

Just hours after David Shulkin became the latest departure from the tumultuous Trump administration, the outgoing Department of Veterans Affairs secretary wrote a New York Times op-ed slamming the culture of Washington, D.C., and suggesting his ouster was the result of political forces in the Trump White House trying to get him out of the way.

Ousted Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinKushner has called Bolton for advice over past year: report Trump ousts Shulkin at VA, taps White House physician Watchdog: VA employed thousands without background checks 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. Robert Wilkie of DOD will serve as Acting Secretary. "Dr. Shulkin has made a tremendous impact toward improving the lives of veterans during his time at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs", said Isakson, while adding "He has been instrumental in all that we have accomplished in the past year, and I thank Dr. Shulkin for his dedicated service to our country and our veterans". And although Trump has fired other cabinet members via Twitter - think former White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson - but they've remained relatively silent despite the rumors surrounding the conditions of their removal.

Shulkin, said The American Legion, was "making meaningful, positive changes at the VA".

In 2015, Shulkin was lured from the private sector and appointed by President Barack Obama as the VA's undersecretary for health. The report concluded that Shulkin had spent a good deal of the trip sightseeing and had inappropriately accepted a gift of Wimbledon tickets. Criticizing the department as "the most corrupt", Trump said he would bring accountability and expand access to private doctors, promising to triple the number of veterans "seeing the doctor of their choice".

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"But privatization leading to the dismantling of the department's extensive health care system is a bad idea", he continued.

During his tenure in the Trump administration, Shulkin also grew increasingly isolated and at odds with top aides, including those in charge of VA communications efforts. Jackson served as an emergency doctor in Iraq and was named White House physician in 2006.

Will Fischer, director of government relations for the VoteVets lobby group, said his group hopes Jackson will oppose any attempt to privatize the VA or its health services, a concept that Republicans talk about occasionally. "That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans", he added.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said Shulkin "made a tremendous impact toward improving the lives of veterans". "I am in the process of reaching out to Dr. Jackson and I look forward to building a strong relationship with him also".

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