David Shulkin, former secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, waits to begin a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., on March 15, 2018.
White House chief of staff John Kelly contradicted the White House’s claims about David Shulkin’s departure as secretary of veterans affairs, a discrepancy that could lead to legal challenges of decisions made by Shulkin’s interim successor.
In a private meeting last week with major veterans groups, Kelly repeatedly said that the decision to remove Shulkin was President Donald Trump’s, according to several people who were present or briefed on the meeting. The White House has insisted that Shulkin resigned, disputing his assertion, in media appearances, that he was fired. (Whether voluntarily or not, his tenure as VA secretary ended on March 29.)
“Kelly said the president felt he needed to make a change with Secretary Shulkin and went ahead and made it to get the VA back on track,” said Dan Caldwell, the director of influential conservative group Concerned Veterans for America (also known as CVA), who attended the meeting.
A White House spokesman stood by the claim that Shulkin resigned.
The distinction isn’t just a matter of semantics. Under the Federal Vacancies