VA Secretary faces calls to resign on Capitol Hill after travel expense report

VA Secretary's travel expenses under scrutiny
VA Secretary's travel expenses under scrutiny... 01:35

Last Updated Feb 15, 2018 9:24 AM EST

WASHINGTON -- Questions are being raised now about the travel practices of a fifth member of the Trump cabinet -- this time, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. He traveled to Europe last summer with his wife -- on the department's dime.

"It was done on our dollar, no taxpayer dollars," Shulkin said in defense of his 10-day European trip.     

In a 97-page report released Wednesday, the VA's inspector general outlined "a number of serious derelictions.". The reports said Shulkin made "misleading statements," "improperly accepted wimbledon tickets" and turned an aide into a "personal travel concierge" to plan "high tea" and "Roman baths" at the request of Shulkin's wife, a Philadelphia dermatologist.

Painting a very different picture than the visit Shulkin described to "CBS This Morning" in November.

"It was a business trip," Shulkin said. "We did the business. That was always our top priority."

Wednesday's report describes how Shulkin's own "chief of staff" altered an email from an aide, to make it appear "that Secretary Shulkin would be receiving an award" in Denmark, so his wife's $4,300 airline ticket would be paid by the U.S. government.

Colorado Republican Mike Coffman said that as a veteran, he is "deeply offended." Coffman, a member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, is calling on Shulkin to step down.
"He's really part of the culture of corruption that too often defines this organization. I just don't think that he has the moral authority to clean it up," Coffman said.

Shulkin is one of five Trump Cabinet members whose travel practices have been scrutinized by agency watchdogs.

Even Republicans were surprised to learn this week that EPA administrator Scott Pruitt exclusively flies first class.

"Regardless of what Cabinet people can do or not do, I think they ought to ride like I do in the back of the bus," said Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. 

Pruitt insists the pricey tickets are not his choice, the decision was made by security personnel. As for Shulkin, he first released a statement calling Wednesday's report an attack on his character. But that statement has since been removed from the VA website

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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.