President Barack Obama said Wednesday he is upset over allegations of misconduct at the Department of Veterans Affairs — though he didn’t go so far as to announce the firing or resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
But Obama left open the possibility that he might do so, pending a further investigation he’s ordered.
Speaking at the White House after an Oval Office meeting with Shinseki and deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors, Obama said if allegations that as many as 40 veterans have died as a result of records being doctored, along with other charges of mismanagement, prove to be true, “it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful,” adding “I will not stand for it — as a commander in chief, but also as an American.”
Asked repeatedly if the secretary has offered to resign — or whether he should — the president gave a roundabout statement of wavering confidence — but only after catching himself praising Shinseki’s work on veterans’ homelessness and the Post-9/11 Bill.
“He has put his heart and soul into this thing and taken it very seriously,” Obama said, while saying he’s still waiting for answers on the investigation and believes Shinseki would quit if necessary.
“I have said to Ric, and I said it to him today, I want to see what the results of these reports are, and there is going to be accountability,” Obama said.
Republicans and others have called for an independent investigation, but Obama announced multiple internal reviews. One that VA will conduct itself is due next week; another, led by Nabors, is due next month.
Nabors is currently en route to Phoenix, the location of a VA facility that’s been at the center of the outrage over attempts to obscure records.