White House spokesman Jay Carney today hinted that Veterans Administration secretary Eric Shinseki might get the shaft by this weekend.
That’s a faster schedule than suggested by President Barack Obama last week, when he said he would not act until he received multiple reports, including a report due by the end of June.
Obama is under increasing public pressure because six Democratic Senators and two Democratic Senate candidates have urged Shinseki to resign, following the release of report showing hidden waiting lists at VA hospitals.
If Obama refuses to fire Shinseki amid bipartisan calls for his departure, he may be seen by voters as incompetent or responsible for the VA corruption. That would already damage his polling reports, and perhaps further damage public support for Obamacare’s government-run health network.
Shinseki is expected to deliver an interim report by this weekend on the agency’s corruption and hidden-waiting lists, Carney said, adding that “we’ll be very interested in the results.”
It will provide Obama with “a whole lot more facts,” he said.
Carney punted when a reporter asked if the president would wait for the June report — due to be completed by Rob Nabors, a senior White House official — before deciding Shinseki’s fate.
“I’m not going to speculate about personnel,” Carney said.
On May 21, Obama suggested he would wait until the delivery of the June report before making any decisions about Shinseki.
“We have to let the investigators do their job and get to the bottom of what happened… once we know the facts, I assure you — if there is misconduct, it will be punished,” Obama stated.
“I have said to Ric — and I said it to him today — I want to see what the results of these reports are and there is going to be accountability,” he said.
Carney repeatedly declined today to say the president backs Shinseki — and repeatedly declined to say if the president plans to fire Shinseki.
“I’m just not going to speculate any more about personnel… because what matters most to the president is making sure we’re not waiting… to take action to ensure our vets” get the care they need and deserve, Carney said.
So far, Obama has tried to defend Shinseki, partly because the scandal threatens Obama’s declining reputation for competence.
Following the Obamacare scandal that began in October, Obama kept Kathleen Sebelius on staff for several months until she resigned in April after a partial recovery of the Obamacare network.
That delay-and-quit strategy helps to insulate Obama from charges that he can’t manage the government agencies. “We’re going to work with him to solve the problem, but I am going to make sure that there is accountability throughout the system after I get the full report.”