White House Expresses 'Confidence' in Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney indicated that President Obama was still standing by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki despite the scandal surrounding the department.
“The president has confidence in Secretary Shinseki,” Carney asserted to reporters at the White House press briefing on Monday.
Reports of systemic enrollment fraud at VA hospitals have raised questions about the department, leading to staggering delays in care for veterans.
Carney insisted that President Obama and senior White House officials first found out about the scandal through media reports.
“I will double check if that’s not the case but that’s when we learned about them and that’s when as I understand the Secretary Shinseki learned about them and immediately took the action that he has taken,” Carney said, when questioned about the timing.
Carney explained that Shinseki had achieved a number of successful efforts at Veterans Affairs, including increased health care spending and improvements in treatment for PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Reporters were deeply skeptical about the resignation of Under Secretary of Health Dr. Robert Petzel on Friady - even though he was already scheduled to retire. In response, Carney pointed to the statement released by the American Legion praising the decision.
He asserted that President Obama was indeed “mad as hell” about the reports, but wanted to wait until there was a full investigation before taking action.
“I’m sure you’ll hear from him on this at some point soon,” Carney said, previewing remarks about the scandal from Obama himself.