Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has admitted he “understood the optics” when he announced the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in June.
Shulkins’ resignation was later rescinded.
But Shinseke, who retired last month, still faced the fallout from the scandal and has repeatedly been criticized for the delay in releasing records on the VA’s handling of deaths at the agency’s Phoenix facilities, including those from long-term illnesses and chronic health problems.
Shulakin apologized in a statement, but the issue continued to be a sore point for veterans groups, lawmakers and a prominent national figure, Donald Trump.
“I understood the optics of it.
I think I did,” Shulki told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl in an interview released Friday.
Shuliks resignation also came amid a series of controversies in VA health care that drew sharp criticism from Trump and his allies.
Shulerkin was appointed to the position in 2016.
The VA has been under scrutiny for years, after several former employees accused Shulley of making false claims about the number of people who were dying at the VA.
Shullerks initial resignation letter acknowledged that “in hindsight, I should have been more careful about how I phrased my initial statement.”
The VA acknowledged it was reviewing its internal policies to address the matter.
The agency said in a written statement that it was “reviewing the information provided” and was “evaluating how we can best help ensure that the Secretary is able to serve the Department and its beneficiaries in a way that supports the public’s trust.”
The agency did not elaborate on its review.
Trump criticized the VA during the presidential campaign and again in the first months of his presidency, and he has repeatedly called on the department to reform its operations.
“If we don’t get rid of Eric Shinselki, they’re going to have to start going after everybody who’s not getting it,” Trump said during an Aug. 5 news conference.
The department’s inspector general is currently investigating the VA for the deaths.
The inspector general found the department was unable to provide “comprehensive and timely responses” to questions about the deaths, and the VA acknowledged in the statement that “its actions are not sufficient.”
The department also said it has been working with federal authorities to address issues in its Phoenix facility.
The White House has also said the department is “committed to ensuring that veterans have access to timely care, safe and effective medical care and quality medical care.”
Shulks resignation came just a day after the agency announced that it would launch a “critical review” of the agency.
The report, to be led by former Acting VA Secretary Karen Straus, will focus on whether the agency was “adequately providing timely, quality, timely and safe care” to veterans.