Mar 29, 2018

David Shulkin: "It should not be this hard to serve your country"

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

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted early Tuesday that he'd just left the Bronx and the police commissioner was sending additional assistance to problem areas. Protesters were "overwhelmingly peaceful" Monday, he said. "But some people tonight had nothing to do with the cause + stole + damaged instead," he added.

2 hours ago - Technology

Civil rights leaders blast Facebook after meeting with Zuckerberg

Screenshot of an image some Facebook employees used as part of their virtual walkout on Monday.

A trio of civil rights leaders issued a blistering statement Monday following a meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other top executives to discuss the social network's decision to leave up comments from President Trump they say amount to calls for violence and voter suppression.

Why it matters: While Twitter has flagged two of the president's Tweets, one for being potentially misleading about mail-in ballot procedures and another for glorifying violence, Facebook has left those and other posts up, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying he doesn't want to be the "arbiter of truth."

4 hours ago - Technology

Cisco, Sony postpone events amid continued protests

Screenshot: Axios (via YouTube)

Cisco said Monday night that it is postponing the online version of Cisco Live, its major customer event, amid the ongoing protests that have followed the killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: Cisco joins Sony, Electronic Arts and Google in delaying tech events planned for this week.