Former Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin agrees with President Donald Trump's move to remove him, citing "the pace," saying the VA needs to do its work "faster and better."
"I think we heard [Wednesday] from the president that he wasn't happy with the pace," Shulkin admitted to Fox News' "Special Report" with Brett Baier. "And, you know, I agree with the president.
"This is an organization that needs to change. It needs to do better at his job, and we all want to do it faster and better because it's so important to the country. And I think the president has the right to have the secretary that he wants with him."
President Trump told a rally in Ohio he needed to make the move because Shulkin had been unable to move toward private care for U.S. veterans.
"I wasn't happy with the speed with which our veterans were taken care of," President Trump told the crowd. "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."
Shulkin responded to Fox News' Baier about his The New York Times op-ed "David J. Shulkin: Privatizing the V.A. Will Hurt Veterans."
"I was part of the administration until [Tuesday]," Shulkin told Baier. "We are not trying to privatize the VA. We are trying to improve and transform the VA. What I said in my editorial is that there are a number of political appointees within VA that are pushing to privatize much faster than I think is in the interest of a safe way to care for our veterans.
"And I've stood up for them because I was in Washington, and I was working for the president on behalf of our veterans."
Later, on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," Shulkin said he "stood up against" partisan appointees by the Trump administration.
"I believe strongly, Anderson, when it comes to VA and national security, we can't make this a political issue," Shulkin said. "And I have been running this department trying to work with both sides of the aisle. There were political appointees in my administration that didn't see it that way and really wanted us to take a much harder stance, I wasn't willing to do that. I stood up against them."
Shulkin's stance was to integrate the private sector instead of dismantling and taking Veterans Affairs private.
"It would be a mistake to conclude that we do not need the VA, and that we have to dismantle the VA," Shulkin told Fox News' Baier. "We have to improve the VA, while at the same time, working with the private sector in an integrated way to meet the needs of our veterans."
Regardless of whom is confirmed by the Senate to run the VA, which could be a challenge for nominee Adm. Ronny Jackson, Shulkin said, it is a "tough" job for anyone.
"This is a tough position, no doubt about it," Shulkin told Cooper on CNN. "This is one of the most complex organizations anywhere to run.
"We're talking about, yeah, 375,000 employees, a budget of close to $200 billion next year and a very complex organization – and so it is going to be a challenge for anybody to take."
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