The array of scandals and controversies that have surrounded Trump’s presidency in only the first year have been bewildering, to say the least. Not only has the president himself been directly involved in various dubious circumstances since taking office, but also those he appointed to key government positions have shown to be untrustworthy and self-interested.
The latest controversy in the Trump administration involves that of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who has been found using taxpayer money for personal leisure and lying about the acceptance of gifts. In doing so, Shulkin unnecessarily took a prolonged trip last July to London for a veterans’ issues summit, as well as traveling to Denmark to meet with various health care officials.
According to a USA Today report,
‘Shulkin improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets and used taxpayers’ money to pay his wife’s airfare during a European trip last summer… VA Inspector General Michael Missal began investigating the excursion in October after The Washington Post reported the couple spent nearly half of the trip sightseeing.’
In addition to illegitimately using taxpayer money to fund his wife’s travel expenses, Shulkin had initially claimed that the tickets to the aforementioned tennis matches were a gift by a close friend, which turned out to be a lie. Rather, the tickets were given to Shulkin and his wife, Merle Bari, by Invictus Games UK strategic adviser Victoria Gosling, who claims to be friends with the couple despite failing to remember Bari’s name when interviewed by investigators.
Department of Veterans Affairs investigators are poised to claim Secretary David Shulkin improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets and used taxpayers' money to pay his wife's airfare during a European trip last summerhttps://t.co/TftaIvw1qu
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) February 12, 2018
Although the Inspector General’s report has yet to be published, early reports show various controversial actions taken by Shulkin, including the non-essential nature of the European trip, as well as misuse of VA employees to plan and arrange his leisure while traveling abroad.
Sec. Shulkin's attorney tells NBC News about @USATODAY report: "Secretary Shulkin has not done anything improper. We have submitted a robust response to the allegations in the IG report, and we will make that response public after the IG has published its final report." –> https://t.co/A13254EpGt
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) February 12, 2018
Shulkin’s lawyers have since disputed the Inspector General’s findings, claiming that the regulations are improperly applied and the nature of Shulkin’s activities have been mischaracterized. Regardless of the rebuttal attempts by Shulkin’s legal team, the abuse of power shown by the VA secretary sheds light on yet another example of the self-interested measures taken by many Trump officials, using their positions to promote their personal agendas rather than that of the general public.
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