John McCain ups ante: Eric Shinseki must go
By: Jonathan Topaz
May 28, 2014 02:23 PM EDT
Sen. John McCain on Wednesday said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign in light of an initial inspector general report that found “systemic” problems in the department.
“I haven’t said this before, but I think it’s time for Gen. Shinseki to move on,” the Arizona Republican said during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
Earlier in the interview, McCain, who represents the state where the Phoenix VA system is located, told Blitzer: “I really believe that Gen. Shinseki should review, in his own mind, whether he can adequately serve the country, carrying out the responsibilities, given the things that have happened on his watch.”
At the end of the segment, the host asked McCain if he was “stopping short” of calling for the secretary’s resignation. The senator said otherwise.
“I think it’s reached that point,” he said of calling for Shinseki’s resignation. “I had not called for it. I was going to wait for the hearing that’s going to take place here very soon. But this keeps piling up.”
McCain had held off on calling for the secretary to step down, saying he would wait to see the findings from the VA inspector general report.
“[L]et us get through this investigation,” he told reporters in early May. He had since declined to call for the secretary to step down.
On Wednesday, the VA inspector general released an interim report that said 1,700 veterans that were waiting for care in the Phoenix VA system were not actually on a waiting list and that people were waiting longer for care than the facility reported. The review also said that 226 veterans waited, on average, 115 days for a first appointment in the Phoenix system.
The report did not explicitly conclude that the delays resulted in any deaths. But the report called for immediate action from the VA.
McCain also said he thinks the Justice Department should launch an investigation into any criminal activity. “I think also, Wolf, it’s probably about time for the Justice Department to get involved here,” he said. “If records were falsified and people were denied care and people died, which is the allegation here — 40 people dying while on that mythical list — these are criminal activities that deserve the Justice Department involvement.”
He added that he was certain that there were problems in other facilities other than Phoenix. “If it happened here, tragically in Phoenix, you cannot believe this is an isolated case.”