President Barack Obama should go beyond ordering an inspector general's examination of the growing Veterans Affairs scandal, and instead order a criminal investigation, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says.
"You have got a crime being committed against veterans," Graham told Fox News "On the Record" host Greta Van Susteren
on Wednesday. "He should tell the FBI [to] go and investigate this allegation of cooking the books, which would be a federal crime."
On Wednesday, Obama said the VA inspector general
is investigating reports that facilities in Phoenix and other locations kept secret waiting lists for veterans seeking care to cover up failures to meet standards. Some veterans may have died while on the wait lists.
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Graham said Obama's vows to get to the bottom of the scandal don't go far enough. He called for the president to replace VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and go to Phoenix and apologize personally to families who have been affected by the scandal.
"We need a new set of eyes on this this problem," Graham said. "Here is what the president said: Taking care of our veterans and their families has been one of the causes of my presidency. Well then, you failed. How could you find out about this on CNN?"
Keeping secret waiting lists, or "cooking the books is not only dishonorable, it's a crime," Graham said. "The president is always a day late and a dollar short on these things."
Meanwhile, the senator said that many of the VA's backlog issues could have been solved long ago, if the government had followed Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain's advice on medical care for veterans.
"In 2008, John McCain said, 'If I were president, every veteran would have a card,'" Graham said. "They would have a choice. If the VA is serving you and your family well, stay there. If they are not, take this card and go wherever you can find healthcare in the private sector."
But Obama, said Graham, is not supporting a bill passed by the House on Wednesday that would allow the VA secretary to fire senior employees who are not properly doing their jobs.
"The president is not even embracing what the House passed today," said Graham. "Firing somebody in the VA is very tough ... the president should embrace that bill, and tell the Senate to take it up tomorrow."
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