The White House is now saying that VA Secretary David Shulkin actually resigned and wasn't fired

  • A White House spokesperson contradicted former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin's claim that he was fired from his job on Wednesday.
  • The spokesperson told Politico on Saturday that Shulkin resigned.
  • The claim comes amid questions about President Donald Trump's authority to appoint an acting secretary to replace Shulkin until a new secretary is confirmed by the Senate.

The White House said on Saturday that ousted Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin resigned from his post earlier this week, contradicting Shulkin's claim that he was fired.

"Secretary Shulkin resigned from his position as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs,” a White House spokesperson told Politico in response to questions about President Donald Trump's legal authority to appoint Shulkin's replacement.

On Wednesday, Trump announced on Twitter that he intended to nominate Admiral Ronny Jackson, the official White House physician, as the new secretary of the VA. Defense Department official Robert Wilkie, Trump said, would lead the department in the interim.

But Trump's decision to bypass the VA's second-in-command — who was supposed to succeed Shulkin — and appoint Wilkie instead could present legal problems for his administration.

Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration:

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Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration
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Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks reportedly announced her resignation after testifying about her job and being required to tell "white lies."

(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned from his position on July 5, 2018 after a number of ethics scandals.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Rob Porter resigned as White House staff secretary in February 2018 amid abuse allegations made by his ex-wives.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired by President Trump in March 2018.

(Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

H.R. McMaster was replaced by John Bolton as national security advisor in March 2018.

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

White House aide Kelly Sadler left her position in June 2018 after reportedly mocking Sen. John McCain.

(REUTERS/Leah Millis)

Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn announced his resignation in March 2018 after becoming a key architect of the 2017 tax overhaul 

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Sally Yates was fired from her post as acting attorney general when she refused to enforce President Trump's travel ban. 

(Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with Russian officials. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

President Trump announced David Shulkin was out as secretary of veterans affairs by sending a tweet announcing he had nominated his personal physican, Ronny Jackson, to replace him on March 28, 2018.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in early May.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned in July.

(June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus resigned in July.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Former advisor to President Donald Trump Steve Bannon resigned in August.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Anthony Scaramucci, former White House communications director was fired in July after just 10 days on the job. 

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Trump fired Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh amid White House leaks in April.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files)

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned in late September. 

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

White House aide Omarosa Manigault insists she resigned and was not fired from her role in December 2017.

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Trump fired U.S. Attorney in Manhattan Preet Bharara in March.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Mike Dubke resigned as White House communications director in late May.

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Walter Shaub, former Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics in Washington, DC resigned in July.

(Photo Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

White House deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka resigned in August 2017. 

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Rick Dearborn, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs, left the White House in December 2017.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

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As Politico pointed out, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, passed in 1998, says the president has the power to appoint an acting official to a vacant position if the current officer holder "dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office."

But if an official is fired, as Shulkin claims he was, it's not entirely clear if Trump is still able to appoint anyone he wants as acting secretary.

Shulkin has repeatedly described his removal as a firing.

During an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Shulkin said he had no idea he was about to be terminated until White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called him to give him a heads up that Trump was about to let him go. Trump then announced Shulkin's ouster on Twitter.

Shulkin argued that he was removed for political reasons, and that certain officials within the VA were actively trying to get rid of him because of the direction in which he wanted to take the department.

“I think that [Trump's] not being well served by all the people around him,” Shulkin told USA Today. “As big of an organization as he needs to run, you need to have the right people around you with the right team, and, you know, we see with all the turnover and different things going on that are happening in the White House, that he’s still trying to figure that out.”

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Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin
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Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin (L) testifies before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee September 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony on the topic of 'Be There: What more can be done to prevent veteran suicide?' (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin testifies before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee September 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony on the topic of 'Be There: What more can be done to prevent veteran suicide?' (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WATER MILL, NY - AUGUST 26: Secretary David Shulkin attends 13th Annual Prostate Cancer Foundation's Gala in the Hamptons with a Special Performance by Kool & The Gang at Parrish Art Museum on August 26, 2017 in Water Mill, New York. (Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 3: (AFP OUT) U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David Shulkin speaks during the announcement at The White House in Washington, DC of a new program using video and software technology to provide medical care to veterans at The White House August 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 3: (AFP OUT) Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr.David Shulkin speaks during a Department of Veterans Affairs announcement with U.S. President Donald J. Trump of a new program using video and software technology to provide medical care to veterans at The White House August 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
David Shulkin, secretary of U.S. Veteran Affairs, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. Shulkin discussed the transformation of Veterans Affairs being undertaken by the Trump Administration. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images�
(L-R), VA Secretary David Shulkin, and President Donald Trump shake hands, before POTUS signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 in the East Room of the White House, on Friday, June 23, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May) (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
VA Secretary David J. Shulkin, surrounded by a group of veterans, speaks to reporters outside of the West Wing of the White House, on Friday, June 23, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May) (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23: U.S. President Donald Trump gives the pen he signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 to Afghanistan war veteran and Purple Heart recipient Michael Verardo during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House June 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump credited Congress and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin for getting the legislation into law. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23: U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin participates in a discussion during a conference at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce June 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. The George W. Bush Institute hosted a conference to address veteran issues. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin speaks during the press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) stands withRolling Thrunder, Inc., founder Artie Muller (3rd-R) L) and US Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin (R) as opening remarks are delivered at the Pentagon May 28, 2017. of Washington, DC, in honor of Memorial Day. Cabinet members drove Harley Davidisons the full route on the 30th Anniversary of Rolling Thunder, where approximately 900,000 motorcycle riders parade thru the streets / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin, looks on before testifying at a House Veteran's Affairs Committee hearing on the FY2018 budget request at the Capitol on May 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks with Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin (R) during a listening session about veterans affairs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 14: Dr. David Shulkin is sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence as new Veterans Affairs Secretary February 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Shulkin was unanimously confirmed yesterday. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Secretary of Veterans' Affairs-designate David Shulkin testifies during a Senate Veterans' Affairs confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on February 1, 2017. Shulkin is the only cabinet holdover from the Obama administration, in which he serves as undersecretary of health for the Department of Veterans Affairs. He previously worked as chief medical officer of the University of Pennsylvania health system. / AFP / ZACH GIBSON (Photo credit should read ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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