Dismissed VA head Shulkin says he did not resign

WASHINGTON — Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin maintained Sunday that he was fired and did not resign from his post, despite conflicting claims from the White House.

"I came to fight for our veterans and I had no intention of giving up," Shulkin said on Sunday's "Meet The Press." "There would be no reason for me to resign. I made a commitment, I took an oath, and I was here to fight for our veterans."

A White House spokesperson told Politico on Saturday that Shulkin "resigned," despite the former Cabinet member's public statements saying otherwise. And asked on "Meet The Press" if he submitted a letter of resignation, Shulkin responded, "No, I did not."

The terms of Shulkin's departure could have an impact on President Donald Trump's ability to pick a replacement. Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday his White House physician, Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, would be appointed to role.

Shulkin said he found out about his dismissal in a phone call from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly shortly before the tweet was sent.

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"He just simply said that the president had decided that he needed to make a change," Shulkin said.

Shulkin said he spoke with Trump mere hours before the tweet was sent, and that the phone call did not leave him with any impression that he was about to be ousted.

"We talked a lot about issues the VA that were important and how we could continue to make progress on policy issues," he said. "In fact, we had set up a meeting for the very next day where I was going to meet with him at 11:00 in the morning."

The decision on new VA leadership, Shulkin said, was "somewhat of a surprise."