CNN's Griffin: Obama Disconnected From VA Scandal

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 05:46 PM

By Greg Richter

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The CNN reporter who broke the story on the VA scandal in Phoenix says he was "confused" by President Barack Obama's remarks Wednesday, saying Obama is disconnected from what is going on.

Obama held a press conference Wednesday to address the growing scandal at several Veterans Affairs hospitals throughout the country. CNN's Drew Griffin broke the story after a doctor at the Phoenix VA told him about secret waiting lists that left sick veterans without medical care for weeks and months.

The VA has admitted that at least 23 veterans nationwide died while waiting to see a doctor.

"If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period," Obama said in the press conference.

But Griffin told CNN's Jake Tapper afterward that he was "caught off guard by what apparently is a disconnect by what's happening out in the country and what the president is talking about."

No investigation is needed to determine whether the abuses actually happened, Griffin said.

"I hate to be curt, but these GAO reports, these Office of Inspector General reports, these memos dating back to 2010 and 2008 — this problem is real," he said. "It exists. It really doesn't have to be studied as to what's going on.

"The government has done its job studying these issues, and to say that you're going to now wait for yet again more studies to come back and more fact-finding to come back, I would think that the vets I've been talking to, wanted much more direct action of what actually is going to happen going forward, instead of, 'wait and see and then we'll decide what's going to happen going forward.'"

Griffin pointed out that the White House has been pointing out in recent days that Obama knew of the long wait times for years. The Bush administration told the Obama transition team about it in 2008, but Obama was talking about it on the campaign trail and as a U.S. senator as early as 2007.

"At the same time he was saying he's known about this problem for years and years and years and it goes back decades, far past into other people's presidencies, and yet we're five years into his presidency and the problem seems to be certainly not better and perhaps even worse," Griffin said.

Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said on his show Wednesday that Griffin shouldn't be surprised: the Obama White House typically responds by promising to look into things, then forgetting them.

"[T]he audience for this press conference was not the veterans. The audience for this press conference is not the media. The audience here is the low-information population," Limbaugh said.

"All they're supposed to see and all they are supposed to take away from this is that Obama cares and he's really mad and he's gonna get to the bottom of it like he's gotten to the bottom of everything else."

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