Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said Thursday that the firing of David Shulkin from the Department of Veterans Affairs was a means to support the Koch brothers' agenda.
MSNBC host Chris Hayes asked Sanders, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, what he thought of the firing. Sanders started by praising Shulkin for his efforts to strengthen the department, and then he mentioned Shulkin's Wednesday op-ed in the New York Times that "said it all."
"This is not a personality issue, this is not a conspiracy, what this is about is an effort on part of the Trump administration to continue their efforts in support of the Koch brothers' agenda, who are now the most powerful political force in America, to privatize the VA," Sanders said.
Last month, the department's inspector general released a scathing report about Shulkin's trip to Europe, which involved sightseeing as well as improper acceptance of tickets to the Wimbledon tennis championships. Sanders, however, agreed with Shulkin's argument that conflict over privatizing veterans' healthcare led to his ouster.
The Vermont senator argued that the VA's budget of $200 billion was a target for business interests.
"That's a lot of money. And there are a lot of people in the private sector now looking at the VA and saying, ‘Hey, how can we make huge amounts of money off the VA by expanding privatization?'" Sanders said.
"That's what this issue is about. Nobody should be surprised that this is taking place," he said.
He said the Koch brothers are openly advocating for privatizing various government agencies, including the social security administration and the postal service.
He connected this to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, whom, Sanders said, "doesn't believe in public education." Because of all those factors, Sanders said, "nobody should be shocked" that the Trump administration is interested in privatizing the VA.