President Barack Obama will meet Friday morning with embattled Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, amid mounting calls for his resignation. However, ahead of their meeting, Shinseki gave a speech in which he seemed determined to remain in his office.
The White House announced in a mid-morning update that Obama and Shinseki will meet at 10:15 a.m. in the Oval Office. The meeting is closed to press.
In an interview with Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan Friday morning, Obama said he would soon have a “serious conversation” with Shinseki about “whether he thinks that he is prepared and has the capacity to take on the job of fixing” the problems at the VA.
Meanwhile, at a speech before the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans Friday morning, Shinseki apologized for the problems at the agency and said “leadership and integrity problems can and must be fixed.” However, he did not offer his resignation and seemed to indicate he wanted to remain at the VA.
“Since 2009, VA has proven that it can fix problems, even big ones, with the support of our public and private partners,” Shinseki said.
More than 100 lawmakers have now called on Shinseki to resign, two days after a horrifying Inspector General’s report detailed “systemic” problems throughout the veterans’ healthcare system. The report also found an average of 115-day wait times for veterans seeking primary care, as well as evidence of “scheduling schemes” used to conceal the wait times of other veterans.
The latest significant shoe to drop late Thursday night was Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, the ranking member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, who said in a statement it was “time to move forward” without Shinseki.
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