Obama to Meet with Veterans Affairs Chief Amid Controversy
By Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton
U.S. President Barack Obama vowed to get to the bottom of allegations that veterans suffered long delays in getting healthcare and made clear Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s job may be on the line, as he scrambled to contain a spreading controversy.
“If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period,” an angry Obama said.
The president appeared in the White House press briefing room moments after meeting Shinseki and Rob Nabors, the top Obama aide who is leading a review into allegations that long wait times for veterans seeking medical treatment could have led to some deaths.
He said he expects to get the preliminary results of a review about the scope of the problem at the Veterans Administration next week, and that anyone found to have manipulated or falsified records at the VA must be held accountable.
“When I hear allegations of misconduct, any misconduct, whether it’s allegations of VA staff covering up long wait times or cooking the books, I will not stand for it, not as commander in chief, but also not as an American,” Obama said.
Obama sidestepped a question as to whether Shinseki had tendered his resignation, but hinted that the retired four-star army general may not want to stay on if it turns out the allegations are as sweeping as suggested.
“If he thinks he’s let our veterans down, then I’m sure that he is not going to be interested in continuing to serve,” Obama said. “At this stage, Ric is committed to solving the problem and working with us to do it.”