Recently ousted Veterans Affairs Sec. David Shulkin appeared on two Sunday shows to protest his firing and ended up getting grilled over his alleged ethics violations.
According to the VA’s inspector general (IG), Shulkin improperly used taxpayer money to fund a trip to Europe for him and his wife. The IG report says that nearly half of the trip was spent on private vacation time and that Shulkin and his wife improperly accepted tickets to attend Wimbledon. (RELATED: Shulkin Says The White House Silenced Him – He Actually Responded To Allegations Three Times)
Shulkin appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday in an attempt to blame his firing solely on his opposition to VA privatization, but hosts of both shows forced him to respond to his alleged misconduct.
“Your critics say that all of your discussion about privatization is you trying to cover-up some of the ethics charges against you,” CNN’s Jake Tapper said. “You said that the controversy was really all about politics but former Obama White House ethics chief…called out your behavior writing in [The Los Angeles Times], deceiving an ethics is a serious offense for a government employee.”
“Look, you know, I’ve been really clear. Everything that I did was done properly. It was preapproved by our ethics team,” Shulkin started.
“Would you do anything differently?” Tapper pressed, to which Shulkin opted to blame a “staff member” for having “some problems” when filing paperwork.
NBC’s Chuck Todd gave Shulkin an even tougher interview, forcing him to respond to specific details about the IG report.
Todd asked if Shulkin believed the charges against him are “trumped up” or a “conspiracy,” but Shulkin denied that spin, stating simply that there was no misuse of government funds and that he was never allowed to respond directly to the allegations. (RELATED: Shulkin Says The White House Silenced Him – He Actually Responded To Allegations Three Times)
“You mix personal and professional though, fair? You took half the time for personal?” Todd asked.
“No, absolutely not,” Shulkin replied. “It was 40 hours of meetings and lectures with our allies.”
“You went to Wimbledon,” Todd continued, leaving Shulkin stuttering.
Shulkin argued that he attended all of the meetings at a conference related to veteran issues and only attended Wimbledon on a Saturday.
“I went to see some sites in the evenings after,” he argued. “Every American has their weekends … this was simply that I didn’t sit in my hotel room after hours on my private time.”