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Trump's Cabinet faces travel scrutiny

Multiple members of Trump's Cabinet have faced scrutiny over their travel practices, including Steven Mnuchin, Tom Price, Ryan Zinke, Scott Pruitt and David Shulkin. Flights on private jets and expensive military planes have sparked ethics investigations.

Posted: Feb 13, 2018 9:10 AM
Updated: Feb 13, 2018 9:11 AM

Lawyers representing Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin say they have submitted a "robust response" to the findings of a review of Shulkin's European business trip last summer and that Shulkin "has not done anything improper."

The VA's inspector general has been reviewing Shulkin's July business trip to London and Denmark, which included meetings with Danish and UK officials as well as a stop at Wimbledon. The findings of that review have not been made public, but USA Today reported Monday that Shulkin's legal team had drafted a point-by-point rebuttal of the findings and that the report was scheduled to be released sometime this week.

"Secretary Shulkin has not done anything improper," Shulkin's lawyers, Justin Shur, Eric Nitz and Emily Damrau, said in a statement to CNN. "We have submitted a robust response to the allegations in the IG report, and we will make that response public after the IG has published its final report."

VA Secretary David Shulkin under review for work trip to Europe

Shulkin's lawyers, according to USA Today, criticize the IG report in their rebuttal as incomplete and unfair, an indication that the findings are not in the secretary's favor.

"The draft report ignores critical facts, presenting a one-sided version of events that casts aside evidence contradicting your chosen narrative," the lawyers wrote in the rebuttal, according to USA Today.

Also in the rebuttal, according to USA Today, Shulkin's lawyers argued that the European trip was "immensely valuable" to Shulkin's work at the VA and it is "beyond obvious" that it was essential travel. Any suggestion otherwise, the lawyers reportedly said, demonstrates "a fundamental lack of understanding of the Secretary's work and the VA's mission."

The VA's inspector general opened an investigation last fall into Shulkin's taxpayer-funded trip to Europe. The Washington Post first reported news of the trip.

Following the report, the Veterans Affairs Department posted the itinerary online, which showed that Shulkin had traveled with his wife and three VA staffers, one of whom also took along a spouse. The US government paid the travel expenses and a per diem for Shulkin's wife, Merle Bari, the Post reported.

In the rebuttal, according to USA Today, Shulkin's lawyers argue that the secretary and his wife had planned to pay for her travel themselves.

"In fact, Secretary Shulkin and Dr. Bari were prepared to pay for Dr. Bari's travel as they always had done previously," the lawyers reportedly wrote. "It was only when staff approached the Secretary to suggest Dr. Bari's travel could be reimbursed that Secretary Shulkin became aware that was a possibility."

A spokesman for the VA inspector general did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

Shulkin is the fifth member of the Trump administration to be investigated over travel practices, a list that includes EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Tom Price, the former Health and Human Services secretary who resigned under scrutiny last year for his use of chartered planes for business purposes.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 32078

Reported Deaths: 2004
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9268539
Lake3320168
Cass15826
Allen130966
St. Joseph120534
Hendricks113067
Hamilton111592
Johnson1086104
Elkhart105728
Madison58258
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Clark46138
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Tippecanoe3753
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Washington521
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Knox250
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Blackford211
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Spencer171
Posey170
Parke170
Gibson142
Ohio130
Warren121
Adams121
Vermillion90
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0154

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33006

Reported Deaths: 2002
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5414239
Cuyahoga4060221
Marion262323
Hamilton2492128
Lucas2152229
Pickaway204635
Mahoning1347171
Summit1277159
Butler81725
Stark69790
Columbiana65750
Lorain65358
Montgomery60915
Trumbull54045
Belmont40212
Miami35130
Warren34020
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Portage31657
Medina30719
Delaware30213
Ashtabula28332
Lake28212
Wood27745
Geauga25829
Wayne25250
Fairfield2463
Clark2256
Licking21410
Mercer2003
Clermont1935
Allen19131
Richland1873
Erie1595
Darke15616
Madison1417
Washington11718
Crawford1063
Morrow1041
Greene945
Ottawa927
Putnam8714
Monroe7311
Sandusky7010
Hocking694
Ross662
Auglaize643
Jefferson632
Huron551
Williams521
Hancock481
Union460
Muskingum450
Clinton430
Hardin410
Shelby402
Logan370
Fayette370
Wyandot362
Fulton350
Guernsey320
Defiance322
Preble301
Lawrence280
Holmes281
Carroll282
Champaign271
Coshocton260
Brown251
Knox231
Seneca192
Highland191
Vinton191
Ashland190
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Perry181
Henry150
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Adams81
Gallia71
Van Wert60
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Pike60
Noble50
Morgan50
Unassigned00
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