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Fired VA secretary reveals how he had to phone Donald Trump’s reclusive mogul friend daily

President Donald Trump told his subordinates to loop Marvel Entertainment CEO and campaign donor Ike Perlmutter into decisions involving the Veterans Affairs Department, fired VA Secretary David Shulkin says.

Shulkin, who Trump elevated to run the VA from the Obama Administration, says there was effectively a ‘second track’ making decision on veterans issues – just as a top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine testified about a back channel Ukraine policy. 

That track included special direct contact with Perlmutter, an Israeli-born American billionaire. 

In case he ever forgot to reach out, Perlmutter would dial Shulkin multiple times each day, ProPublica reported. 

The Mar-a-Lago member and his wife have each donated $360,600 to the Trump Victory Joint Fundraising Committee. Laurie Perlmutter also donated $449,400 to a pro-Trump super PAC in 2016 and served on his inaugural committee. 

President Donald Trump, left, accompanied by Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, center, shakes hands with Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire, and the CEO of Marvel, right, before signing an Executive Order on "Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection" at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Thursday, April 27, 2017

President Donald Trump, left, accompanied by Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, center, shakes hands with Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire, and the CEO of Marvel, right, before signing an Executive Order on “Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection” at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Thursday, April 27, 2017

‘I didn’t reach out to these guys — these guys had a prior relationship with the president and were advising him,’ Shulkin told the publication. ‘There probably wasn’t too many times I met with the president when he didn’t say, ‘What’s happening with Ike?’

Trump fired Shulkin via tweet in 2018 following a damaging inspector general’s report of wasteful spending on an official 10-day European trip where he was accompanied by his wife.

There was a ‘second track’ of VA decision-making led by the president’s alternative advisers that didn’t include me,’ Shulkin wrote 

‘Ike, Bruce and Marc had the president’s ear in ways that I did not, even as his cabinet secretary,’ said Shulkin. In addition to Perlmutter he was referencing physician Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman.  

David Shulkin, who was fired as Trump's VA Secretary in 2018, has written a new book, 'It Shouldn't Be This Hard to Serve Your Country'

David Shulkin, who was fired as Trump’s VA Secretary in 2018, has written a new book, ‘It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country’

The reclusive Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire, and the CEO of Marvel, walks down the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017

The reclusive Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire, and the CEO of Marvel, walks down the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017

President Trump elevated Shulkin from his high-level Obama Administration post at the VA, then fired in him 2018

President Trump elevated Shulkin from his high-level Obama Administration post at the VA, then fired in him 2018

Shulkin has written a new book, ‘It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country. 

‘This was the first time it hit me just how much the Mar-a-Lago crowd was going to be involved in my new life and in my ability to lead the VA,’ Shulkin writes. ‘I didn’t need written instructions to understand this two-tiered social event — the guests who waited downstairs and the guests who were entertained upstairs — as a directive.’

‘Essentially, ‘These people are my friends and confidants, and I expect you to listen to them and make them happy,’ he wrote. 

Shulkin also described his free-wheeling initial Trump Tower job interview with president-elect Trump, in a Time Magazine excerpt.   

‘So what’s the best hospital in the city?” Trump asked the former hospital administrator. 

“Well, Mr. Trump, I think it depends on …’ Shulkin answered. 

Trump intended to have former White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson to succeed Shulkin

Trump intended to have former White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson to succeed Shulkin

“You know, I used to think well of this one place, but I know a guy who went in there feeling okay, and they just chopped his thing right off! They chopped it off! I wouldn’t go there for anything now,’ the president told him. 

Shulkin writes that he struggled to come up with a response, offering: ‘Well . . . no hospital is good at treating every condition.’

He also writes: ‘To be clear, I did not set out to tell the story of how much the VA accomplished in three years and how I was fired by a Trump tweet on the eve of passing the most important bill in the history of veterans’ medical care because I wanted anyone to feel sorry for me. I am telling my story because, in my opinion, the VA is still in grave danger. Its doctors, its administrators and most importantly our veterans are at risk as never before.’ 

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