The White House and former Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin are at odds over the narrative of his departure, The Hill reported.
Shulkin on Sunday pushed back against the White House’s claim that he resigned, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that he was “committed to making sure this job was seen through to the very end.”
Shulkin’s departure came amid a round of staff and Cabinet shake-ups within the Trump administration, including the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the resignation of White House communications director Hope Hicks, The Hill adds.
Shulkin made the rounds on the Sunday show circuit this week following his exit and took the chance to speak out against privatizing the VA. A holdover from the Obama administration, Shulkin was a staunch opponent of privatization during his tenure at the agency.
“I came to run the Department of Veterans Affairs because I’m committed to veterans,” Shulkin told CNN’s “State of the Union” when asked if he was fired or resigned from the post, noting that “he did not resign.”
His comments contradict a statement from White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters published by Politico on Saturday.
“Secretary Shulkin resigned from his position as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs,” the statement said.
The Hill emailed the White House on Sunday to clarify the apparent discrepancy. The spokesperson said the statement from Walters regarding Shulkin “still stands.”
President Trump announced in a tweet last week that he was replacing Shulkin, while also thanking him for his service to the U.S. and its veterans.
“I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, MD, as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs,” Trump tweeted.
The exit capped off an embattled last few months of Shulkin’s tenure, which included an inspector general report that found the secretary took a trip to Europe billed as official travel but included sightseeing activities and cost more than $122,000 dollars.
The report also said that Shulkin’s former chief of staff, who resigned after the inspector general released the assessment, edited an email in an effort to grant Shulkin’s wife approval from agency ethics officials to join him on the trip, The Hill noted.