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Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images

Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin, did not wait long after being fired by President Trump before going to the New York Times, as he had done on several occasions during his time in the administration, to tell his side of the story:

"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 am proud of my record and know that I acted with the utmost integrity. Unfortunately, none of that mattered. As I prepare to leave government, I am struck by a recurring thought: It should not be this hard to serve your country."
— Former VA Secretary David Shulkin in an NYT op-ed

Take note: This kind of freelancing to the NYT and other media outlets was at the center of both Trump's and chief of staff John Kelly's frustrations with the Secretary.

Key excerpts from Shulkin's op-ed:

  • "I believe strongly in the mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and nothing about my political experience in Washington could ever change that."
  • "During my tenure at the department, we have accomplished a tremendous amount... It seems that these successes within the department have intensified the ambitions of people who want to put V.A. health care in the hands of the private sector."
  • "Until the past few months, veteran issues were dealt with in a largely bipartisan way... Unfortunately, the department has become entangled in a brutal power struggle, with some political appointees choosing to promote their agendas instead of what’s best for veterans."
  • "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. I have been falsely accused of things by people who wanted me out of the way."

Read it in full.

Shulkin's media blitz didn't end with the NYT. He also went on NPR Thursday morning where he said he thinks the Trump administration is trying to muzzle him "to make sure that I wasn't as effective as a leader moving forward."

Go deeper

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate panel will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with "crimes against humanity," alleging his COVID-19 pandemic response led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, per the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The latest: The lawmakers initially said Bolsonaro should be charged with mass homicide and genocide, but lawmakers updated the report to replace these recommendations with the new charge, its lead author, Sen. Renan Calheiros, told the NYT.

Updated 6 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.