House Democrats are investigating the actions of several Trump associates over their potential involvement in influencing hiring decisions at the at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA).
Mark Takano, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, informed the Department of Veterans’ Affairs that the committee would commence an investigation into the role three Trump associates had in VA hiring processes. The Wall Street Journal reported that House Democrats are particularly interested in correspondences the former VA chief, Dr. David Shulkin had with Ike Perlmutter, the former CEO of Marvel Entertainment, Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, a physician, and lawyer Marc Sherman.
The move comes several months after the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a government watchdog agency, announced it would investigate the influence the three men had at the department.
The three men have denied exerting undue influence over the VA’s appointments. They told the Wall Street Journal, “our only goal was to help improve veterans’ care,” adding, “we didn’t seek or receive any personal or financial gain.”
However, the former VA chief set up a private email account for the sole purpose of communicating with the three Trump associates. In one email, the Wall Street Journal reported Shulkin wrote, “Dear Friends— I have set up a new email address just for our secure communication on issues in the future.”
The three men, of which one is a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club and another enjoys “special privileges”, maintain that their communication with Shulkin was merely to offer the VA chief advice when appropriate.
It is common for government agencies to seek outside advice. However, typically this takes place under government oversight, not through private backchannels. These outside advisers are also usually on an appointed advisory committee. Neither Perlmutter nor Moskowitz and Sherman sit on any committees.
The White House is yet to comment on the allegations.