‘I don’t care what’s happening’: Obama, Biden vow ‘to be as transparent as possible’ about VA scandal
Biden, Obama and Hillary Clinton, all vying for the Democratic nomination for president, on Wednesday vowed to be as “transparent” about the scandal at the Veterans Affairs (VA) department as possible, amid concerns that the Justice Department has been withholding evidence and has not provided a full accounting of the scandal.
“It is my hope that the American people will be able to understand this and understand that this is something that we have to do the best we can to be transparent,” Biden said in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash.
“I don, I think, think that the president is going to be satisfied with a report that’s going to say, well, we’ve done everything we can do and the VA has a plan, or that’s what they’re telling us.”
Biden said he was not “satisfied” with the VA’s response to his inquiries about the health problems at the Phoenix VA hospital, which he called “not very transparent” and a “mistake” on the part of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.
Shinseki resigned from the VA on July 2 amid a scandal that led to the deaths of more than 1,300 veterans.
He has denied any wrongdoing.
“The president wants to know that we are going to have a transparent process.
He wants to see what our veterans are doing, what the challenges they’re facing, and what we’re doing about it,” Biden told Bash.”
And I think that that will be the case as we move forward.
I think you’re going to see that.”
The vice president was asked if he had “been told anything at all” about Shinsek’s resignation.
“I haven’t heard from him, Dana,” he said.
“The president doesn’t want me to know anything about that.”
Shinsek resigned amid the scandal, and Clinton and Biden said they hoped Shinseks resignation would help improve VA health care.
“There was a lot of bad blood, a lot more than I could possibly tell you,” Biden added.
“But I will tell you this: When the VA had the opportunity to be fully transparent, it was a very good thing for them.”
Clinton also said that she is “open” to an audit of VA health department records, and said she was “open to a full, thorough, open and transparent investigation.”
The president and Biden, along with the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury, are all expected to appear before a Senate panel on Thursday to explain their responses to the VA scandal.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, called on the Senate to “investigate the VA crisis with the same vigor and determination that the Department of Justice pursued the Clinton email scandal,” and also for Shinseky’s resignation to be investigated as a crime.
The VA has been under investigation by the Justice and Treasury Departments for years, and has been unable to turn over documents related to the scandal to the panel.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, has also been investigating the VA.
A spokeswoman for Shinnek told CNN on Tuesday that he resigned due to “personal and professional differences” and would continue to be under investigation.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN.
The scandal erupted last year when it was revealed that the VA was using a secret email system to hide records related to medical care.
The VA Inspector General found in August that the department had used the system for over two years, including at least four times during the 2016 election cycle.
The IG’s report revealed that veterans were being treated with inadequate care and that the system was “far from perfect.”
The VA and the Department are facing a number of lawsuits from veterans and their advocates seeking redress for what they see as a systemic lack of accountability and accountability.
The Justice Department is also investigating Shinseke, and the Office of Special Counsel is also conducting an investigation.