Transcript for Fired Veterans Affairs secretary speaks out
We'll move on to the latest shake-ups at the white house. There you see hope hicks saying good-bye to the president Thursday and this morning. There's new fallout from his latest fallout, head of the V.A. We'll hear from David shulkin in a little bit but first -- Reporter: Very fond farewell to hope hicks but a different send-off for V.A. Secretary David shulkin. The president announcing he was fired in a tweet. He's now eighth high-profile firing or departure just this month and the president's pick to replace him, his own doctor rear admiral Ronny Jackson is raising a lot of questions. The president is putting his personal physician in charge of the second largest federal agency overseeing the care of roughly 9 million veterans and a nearly $200 billion budget and while Jackson may have experienced running the white house medical unit and clearly has hit it off with the president he does not have management experiment on this scale. Now, veterans' groups are skeptical he is up to the task and lawmakers are raising questions whether he can run this massive agency and David shulkin, George, he is not going quietly. He says he's the victim of an ugly political power play. Thanks, Mary. We are joined by Dr. Shulkin, Dr. Shulkin, thanks for joining us this morning. I know you've been a busy man the last couple of days and yesterday, I want to start, the president talked about not being satisfied with the level of care at the V.A. Let's listen. I wasn't happy with the speed with which our veterans were taken care of. We made changes because we want them taken care of. We want them to have choice, so that they can run to a private doctor and take care of it and it's going to get done. I know you spoke to the president before you were fired on Wednesday. Is that what he told you on the call? Well, the president and I did talk about what we were doing to improve the V.A. And how we could speed things up. I agree with the president, we have to do more and we have to do better for our veterans. So but did he tell you he was not satisfied and did he tell you you were losing your job? The president asked me about the types of things that we were doing to improve the V.A. He a lot of questions about it. I told him all the steps that we were taking place. He did not mention anything specifically about my position but was really more about the policies that we were putting in place. On your way out you're warning against privatizing the V.A. The president certainly seemed to say he wants at least some kind of private option. Did he indicate to you that he wants to move towards privatization? Well, I think the president wants to see us do better for our veterans. Listen, I'm in favor of working closely with the private sector, whatever is best for our veterans, what I have warned against is not investing in the V.A. And making sure that we create a system that really meets the needs of our veterans and that the country can be proud of and I think this is a balance that we need to do, invest in the V.A. At the same time working with the sector. You wrote it's a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits. Which people and companies will profit and what's going to happen to veterans in return? Well, what I've talked about is is that there are a number of political appointees that weren't happy because I wanted to make sure that we were building a strong V.A. At the same time that we did work with the private sector. These political appointee, I think, feel that what we need to do is dismantle the V.A. And move everything to the private sector. That would not be a good thing for our veterans. That would be reneging on our country's commitment to those who have served us. You also write that you were falsely accused by people who want you out of the way. Are you referring to that pretty scathing insmekter general report about your trip to Europe last summer saying you improperly used government funs to play for your wife's travel and accepted wimbledon tickets. Well, this was a very important business trip where we met with our five allies. There were 40 hours of lecture, everything that I did was pre-approved by our ethics committee. There was nothing that was done improper. What happened was was that this was a politicized issue. This was used to be able to try to decrease my effectiveness in getting the job done for our veterans. Your proposed successor, Ronny Jackson, Dr. Ronny Jackson, is facing some skepticism. He is getting praise for his service in Iraq and the white house, but real queions about whether he has the relevant management experience to lead such a large bureaucracy. Do you share those concerns? Well, I know Dr. Jackson well. He is Ang honorable man. He is a great patriot. Good values. This is a very tough job and, you know, I think anybody who is going to step into this job is going to need a lot of help to be able to get it done and I'll certainly do everything I can to make sure he succeeds because this is really too important for us as a country not to honor our mission to our veterans. Dr. Shulkin, thanks for your time this morning. Thank you. And those will be some confirmation hearings for Dr. Jackson. Tough questions for him coming up.
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