In media appearances the day after President Trump announced his firing on Twitter, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin decried the efforts of Trump appointees to push privatization at his former department, and described the current atmosphere in Washington as “toxic.”
“In recent months, though, the environment in Washington has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work that our veterans need and deserve,” Shulkin wrote in the New York Times.
And on NPR, Shulkin complained that “there are many political appointees in the VA that believe that we are moving in the wrong direction or weren’t moving fast enough toward privatizing the VA.”
Shulkin was at the center of a controversy last year over his use of federal funds to pay for his wife’s flight to Europe last year to accompany him on an official trip. Shulkin told NPR that the White House had kept him from defending himself, alleging they had done so for political ends.
“I was not allowed to put up an official statement or to even respond to this by the White House,” he said in the NPR interview. “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.”
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.
Fired V.A. Secretary Slams Privatization Efforts