Jay Carney Dodges Questions on Obama's Confidence in Shinseki

Thursday, 29 May 2014 08:01 PM

By John A. Oswald

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Does President Barack Obama have confidence in embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki?

It was a simple question that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeatedly refused to answer Thursday, The Hill reports.

What a difference two weeks and one damning inspector general's report makes.

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Carney, without hesitation, declared on May 12 that Obama was "confident in Secretary Shinseki's ability to take appropriate action based on the IG's findings."

He wouldn't utter the word Thursday the same way. no matter how hard ABC's Jonathan Karl tried at Thursday's White House briefing.

Story continues  below video.

“A very simple yes-or-no question: Does the president have confidence in Gen. Shinseki?” Karl asked.

"The president believes and is confident that Secretary Shinseki has served this nation admirably," Carney said, again trying to sidestep Karl.

Carney's tried to assert that Obama addressed it last week.

Not directly, several reporters grumbled back.

"What I would point you to is what the president said on Secretary Shinseki. I’m not going to improve upon his words on this regard. He talked about accountability. I understand the wordplay, but I think what is more important."

Karl cut him off: "It’s not wordplay. It’s a very simple question. Does he have confidence in Secretary Shinseki?"

Carney said Obama is waiting on an internal audit from Shinseki and was disturbed by Wednesday's Inspector General's report finding VA healthcare bungling was far worse, far wider, and more systematic than feared.

The White House left Shinseki dangling as calls for his ouster grew.

Karl and other reporters have blogged Shinseki could be canned in days.

"White House officials are doing nothing to tamp down speculation that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki will soon be out the door," Karl blogged.

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