Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki says he has not offered President Barack Obama his resignation over the VA hospital scandal, nor does he plan to do so, reports The Washington Post.
When one reporter reminded Shinseki that allegations that veterans died waiting to get doctor appointments put him "under the gun," the retired four-star Army general replied, "[t]his is not the first time."
"I serve at the pleasure of the president," he said.
"I came here to do one thing: Which is to take care of veterans and families. We’ve run hard for five years, I think we have good things to show for it, there’s more to be done," said the decorated war hero who served two tours in Vietnam.
Told of whispers that he offered to step down, The Post says he replied: “No. You guys know me better than that.”
The decibel level on demands that Shinseki must go are getting deafening, however.
And they're now coming from Democrats, including from one challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.
Alison Lundergan Grimes on Thursday became the first major Democratic candidate for Senate to call for Shinseki's head, reports The Hill ,
putting her call to action ahead of McConnell, who has not explicitly demanded new leadership.
"We owe a solemn obligation to our veterans and our government defaulted on that contract. I don't see how that breach of trust with our veterans can be repaired if the current leadership stays in place,” Grimes said of the VA boss.
"A change in leadership might be a good step in the right direction,” is the closest McConnell has come publicly.
Obama's backing of Shinseki was hardly a long-term endorsement, some observers said, after he spoke on the scandal Wednesday.
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"How do I think Eric Shinseki has performed overall?" Obama responded to a question by a Reuters reporter. "I would say that on homelessness, on the 9/11 GI bill, on working with us to reduce the backlog across the board, he has put his heart and soul into this thing and he has taken it very seriously."
"It sounded to me more like, 'Well, we've got this investigation going on and I'm going to keep this guy around to catch the harpoons for a while and then he's gone,'" correspondent John King said on CNN's "Inside Politics."
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