By Justin Sink
President Obama is "concerned and angry" over allegations that dozens of veterans may have died waiting for appointments at a Phoenix veterans hospital, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.
"He certainly is concerned and angry about the allegations we've seen," the White House spokesman told reporters aboard Air Force One.
The comments came after Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki told lawmakers he was "mad as hell" over the allegations during testimony on Capitol Hill.
“I am personally angered and saddened by any adverse consequence that a veteran might experience while in, or as a result of, our care,” he said.
On Wednesday, the White House announced Obama was ordering his deputy chief of staff to oversee review of the Veterans Affairs Department following the allegations of misconduct at the facility in Phoenix. Similar allegations have been reported at facilities in Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania and Georgia, among others.
Rob Nabors, a longtime Obama aide who previously led the White House’s Legislative Affairs Office, will examine the VA’s patient safety rules and appointment procedures.
"While we get to the bottom of what happened in Phoenix, it's clear the VA needs to do more to ensure quality care for our veterans," the president said in a statement. "I'm grateful that Rob, one of my most trusted advisers, has agreed to work with Secretary Shinseki to help the team at this important moment."
Earlier Thursday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called for an independent investigation into the matter.
“Our veterans are our heroes and they deserve better than a White House insider-led investigation,” Priebus said in a statement. “They deserve an independent investigation. Yet again the White House is trying to pass off a scandal as an isolated incident when in fact it continues to grow every day.”