Obama on VA: Damage Control, Stat!

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama is escalating his damage control efforts by sending a deputy chief of staff to help manage the expanding scandal at hospitals run by the federal Veterans Administration.

Obama expects “Rob [Nabors] to work with the secretary [Eric Shinseki] and others at the VA to get to the bottom… and to hold people accountable, if necessary,” claimed his press secretary, Jay Carney.

Carney also tried to control the damage by declaring that top officials will wait for the completion of investigations before they comment or take action in the scandal over the secret waiting lists at VA hospitals.

Obama “will wait for the facts and the investigation, as well he should,” Carney said Tuesday.

“The president wants to know what happened… and that people are held accountable if the problems and allegations that we’ve seen out there are proved true,” Carney said.

The scandal threatens to damage Obama’s already weak support among older Americans, during the run-up to the November midterm election.

Carney declined to say if there is a timetable for completing the VA investigation, and declined to say if Nabor’s involvement will impact the investigation of the scandal by the department’s Inspector General. The IG was selected and nominated by Obama.

Carney also denied that the president has been slow to deal with the scandal.

”I would simply say that the president has provided his personal attention — he’s personally instructed that we provide additional resources to the VA,” Carney said.

“What I’m telling you [is] the personal attention is there,” he insisted. Nabor’s role “reflects the president’s focus and attention on this issue,” he said.

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