The White House is still reviewing the Veterans Affairs inspector general report that criticizes David Shulkin’s use of taxpayer funds to partially pay for a European trip, according to Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
During a press briefing on Monday, Sanders said that the Trump administration is continuing to focus on the “great work that is taking place at the VA while that’s still under review.”
Shulkin has repaid the disputed funds and has told media outlets in recent weeks that he has the support of the White House, despite the negative press and controversy that erupted over the February report, calls by one GOP lawmaker for Trump to fire him and accusations that political appointees have been working behind the scenes to orchestrate his ouster.
Sanders said during the press briefing that transforming the VA to ensure veterans receive necessary services and care has been a top priority for Trump. However, she declined comment when a reporter asked whether Shulkin’s conduct was consistent with the standards that Trump expects for the VA.
Meawhile, Axios reports that a senior White House official indicates Shulkin’s position is precarious amid rumors of a second, damaging inspector general report due to be released in the next few weeks. That report is expected to criticize Shulkin’s use of his security detail to run personal errands, according to The Daily Beast. The publication based its story on anonymous sources, and the inspector general’s office would not confirm or deny the existence of ongoing investigations.
Shulkin still has the support of leading advocacy groups for veterans, but lawmakers are losing patience with the VA leader. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., has made repeated calls for his resignation since the release of the inspector general report in February, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called the chaos within the VA a huge disservice to millions of veterans.