The White House is pushing back on claims from a former official and the President about revamp efforts within the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to Politico.
During an infrastructure event-turned campaign rally in Ohio on Thursday, President Donald Trump addressed his firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, telling the crowd of supporters that he wanted to give veterans more choices when it comes to health care.
“We’re going to have real choice,” Trump said Thursday. “That’s why I made some changes — because I wasn’t happy with the speed with which our veterans were taken care of. I wasn’t happy with it.”
Shulkin himself, in an op-ed in The New York Times Wednesday, wrote that he was removed from the department to clear the way for the privatization of veterans’ health care.
But the White House in a statement to Politico on Thursday contradicted both those claims: “No one is talking about privatizing the VA,” deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told Politico.
Shulkin’s ousting has been widely speculated for weeks after reports surfaced that Shulkin and his staff acted inappropriately in order to secure government funding for his wife to accompany him on a trip to Europe. The White House was also reportedly frustrated with Shulkin’s openness with the media and his claims that political appointees within his department were working against him.
Trump announced in a tweet on Wednesday that he would replace Shulkin with White House physician Ronny Jackson.