The White House is now asserting that recently departed Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin resigned. Shulkin has made it clear in his public comments that he was forced out. While Washington often wraps firings in the verbal cloak of a resignation, the distinction this time could have far-reaching implications that could throw the Department of Veterans Affairs, the second-largest federal agency, into further disarray.
The White House declined to elaborate on the exact circumstances surrounding Shulkin’s ouster or offer any evidence to support the assertion. A VA spokesman referred a request for comment to the White House. But a person familiar with Shulkin’s dismissal strongly disputed that Shulkin resigned, noting that he did not submit a resignation letter. Shulkin’s removal happened so quickly, the person said, that he was never given the opportunity to return to his office or address VA employees.
From Talking Points Memo:
Ousted Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Thursday night that he did get a call from President Donald Trump on the day of his firing but that the President didn’t mention he would be fired. “We spoke about the progress that I was making, what I needed to do from a policy perspective,” Shulkin told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes about his Wednesday phone call with Trump. “He was very inquisitive about the things that we were working on, making sure that we were focused on the job at hand.” “He made no mention of the fact that he was about to terminate you?” Hayes then asked. “That’s correct,” Shulkin replied.