Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin blames sloppy reporting for sensationalizing the details of an official trip he took to Europe in July and for complicating the daily work of administration officials more broadly.
“I know that there’s not been any inappropriate actions,” Shulkin told the Washington Examiner in an interview this week, referring to the controversy last month over personal excursions he took during a work-related trip to Denmark and the U.K. “The reporting in the newspapers was, as I’ve said before, horrible reporting. It just was not — it was a very, very biased story filled with inaccuracies.”
Shulkin was among a handful of administration officials who faced scrutiny of their taxpayer-funded travel this fall. One Cabinet member, former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, resigned on Sept. 29 due to the political headaches his use of a private jet had caused the administration.
Although Shulkin did not take private or military travel, he came under fire after the Washington Post reported in late September that he and his wife toured historic sites and went shopping during downtime on a work-related trip to Europe. The VA’s inspector general opened an investigation into Shulkin’s travel in early October.
Shulkin has seemingly remained in President Trump’s good graces, however.
Trump frequently praises Shulkin and the work he has undertaken to transform the VA from a scandal-ridden agency to one of the most oft-cited success stories of his presidency.
Like his media-bashing boss, Shulkin faulted skewed reporting for distracting administration officials, including the president, from their agenda
“I understand that the world of, the journalism field right now is a very competitive field. And it’s based upon grabbing people’s attention through headlines and the rapidity of which one can get stories out, and I think that there are extreme pressures to publish stories without doing all the full fact-checking,” Shulkin said. “And look, I’m not trying to be critical of what must be a very challenging field, but I can tell you that when reporting is done without the appropriate fact-checking, that then it does have consequences and it does make our jobs harder here in Washington.”
The VA secretary noted that “allegations” against Trump have also diverted the attention of the White House.
“I think that there’s no doubt, that when the president has to spend his time addressing issues that are allegations before facts are out, that it’s taking away his time and focus from what he wants to do,” Shulkin said. “I mean, I’ve not talked to him about this nor have I talked to my other fellow Cabinet members about this, but I just know the way that it impacts me and the way that it must impact them as well.”