The Trump administration hasn’t exactly been defined by smooth sailing. This week, as new Congressional Democratic oversight of their activities continued to ramp up, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) unveiled a new line of inquiry meant to uncover whether a group of Trump associates exerted improper influence at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs under its first Trump era head, David Shulkin.
Shulkin apparently maintained such close ties to former Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter, physician Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, and lawyer Marc Sherman that he made a separate email account just for communicating with the three of them. Perlmutter is an apparent member of President Donald Trump’s high profile Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and Moskowtiz apparently maintains special “privileges” there. Takano has requested all communications between the men and officials at the VA.
The three of them insist they did nothing wrong, explaining:
‘Our only goal was to help improve veterans care. We didn’t seek or receive any personal or financial gain. We never imagined that volunteering our personal time to improving veterans’ health care would open us up to criticism.’
They claim to have only offered Shulkin advice when appropriate.
Ironically enough, Shulkin doesn’t work at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs anymore because of completely separate corruption. He used taxpayer dollars to jet his wife around Europe based on an altered “official” email that his then-chief of staff was apparently at least partially responsible for — although Shulkin later suggested that chief of staff’s email account had been hacked. Still, the inspector general’s office overseeing Shulkin’s agency concluded that the chief of staff herself — and not anyone else — was responsible for the false characterization that both Shulkin and his wife were needed overseas for officials business.
That’s not where the allegations of corruption ended, either, since he apparently also used a VA staffer as a “personal travel concierge” and even improperly accepted a gift of Wimbledon tickets that should have sparked red flags for him over possible corruption.
Shulkin has since fallen out with the Trump team, which wasn’t even responsible for his now former position in the first place, since he was originally appointed under President Barack Obama. He claimed early last year that the administration sought to silence him for political reasons because he opposed privatizing the Department of Veterans Affairs, which at least some Trump appointees have pushed for.
He’s hardly alone among top Trump officials to face credible allegations of corruption, and is one of at least three agency heads to resign specifically over improper use of taxpayer funds for travel.
This time around, the implication is that not only did the three Trump friends who stayed closely in touch with Shulkin offer advice, but they also influenced decisions, which they deny.
It’s not the first time that Trump’s life as a private citizen has been alleged to have exerted corrupt influence on his administration. Just recently, for instance, reports emerged about authorities’ concern about his inauguration committee, which dished out massive amounts of cash to Trump associates and their businesses and may be guilty of money laundering, conspiracy against the United States — and even mail fraud. Federal authorities have opened an investigation.
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