Tapper to WH Chief of Staff: 'How Many Dead Veterans Do You Need?'

Thursday, 15 May 2014 06:55 PM

By Greg Richter

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White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough tried defending Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's record in a Thursday appearance on CNN, but Jake Tapper was having none of it.

Tapper noted that Shinseki served his country admirably during his military service, but told McDonough that he doesn't seem to be on top of multiple problems plaguing the VA. The agency is under fire for veterans being put on "secret" lists to hide the fact that they have had to wait well past the 14-day guidelines to see a doctor.

Some have died waiting.

"Rick is going to get to the bottom of this," McDonough assured Tapper. "The president is demanding that, and that’s what we’ll do."

Tapper was unconvinced, pressing McDonough on why Shinsecki isn't being held accountable.

"He holds himself to account," McDonough answered.

"The president, as soon as he heard about the latest outrage in Phoenix, he said, 'I need to know what happened, I need to know the accountability measures that you have and that you can institute, and if it’s not enough then let's change it and make sure we hold people accountable,'" he continued.

Tapper showed a letter from a year ago that warned of problems veterans were having with access, yet nothing was done.

"How many stories like this, how many letters like this, how many dead veterans do you need before somebody asks the question within the White House, 'Maybe this guy isn't the best steward of these veterans?'" Tapper said.

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