Fired VA chief David Shulkin rails at 'toxic' atmosphere in Washington DC: 'It should not be this hard to serve your country'

The 58-year-old made his comments in the New York Times 

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Thursday 29 March 2018 15:42 BST
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Mr Shulkin said was 'a physician, not a politician'
Mr Shulkin said was 'a physician, not a politician' (Reuters)

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Donald Trump’s ousted cabinet member David Shulkin, has delivered a scathing departing blow, condemning the toxic and chaotic environment in Washington saying “it should not be this hard to serve your country”.

Within hours of being fired from his position as Veterans Affairs (VA) secretary, Mr Shulkin published an op-ed article in the New York Times in which he sought to stress his accomplishments during his time in the post

Yet, he added: “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.

“I can assure you that I will continue to speak out against those who seek to harm the VA by putting their personal agendas in front of the well-being of our veterans.”

He added: “As I prepare to leave government, I am struck by a recurring thought: It should not be this hard to serve your country.”

The departure of Mr Shulkin, who also served in the administration of Barack Obama, had been expected for some weeks. While Mr Trump was said to have developed a good rapport with him, Mr Shulkin’s cause had been damaged when it emerged earlier this year his chief of staff had doctored an email and made false statements to create a pretext for taxpayers to cover expenses for the his wife on a 10-day trip to Europe last summer.

The details were uncovered by the agency’s inspector general.

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The inspector’s report also found that Mr Shulkin also improperly accepted a gift of tickets to a Wimbledon tennis match, and had an aide to act as a “personal travel concierge” to him and his wife.

There were also reports that Mr Shulkin had angered many conservatives within his department, and fighting with them openly.

“I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin’s service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS!” Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday evening as the firing was announced.

Mr Trump said he was replacing Mr Shulkin with White House physician Adm Ronny Jackson.

Mr Jackson, who also served as White House physician under the two presidents prior to Mr Trump, earlier this year gave the president a clean bill of health and said he performed “well” on a cognitive tests.

“As many of you know, I am a physician, not a politician. I came to government with an understanding that Washington can be ugly, but I assumed that I could avoid all of the ugliness by staying true to my values,” Mr Shulkin wrote in his article.

“I have been falsely accused of things by people who wanted me out of the way. But despite these politically-based attacks on me and my family’s character, I am proud of my record and know that I acted with the utmost integrity. Unfortunately, none of that mattered.”

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