By Rebecca Shabad - 06/11/14 12:17 PM EDT
The Justice Department has formally directed the FBI to investigate misconduct within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“At the Department’s direction, the FBI has instructed agents in its Phoenix office to conduct an investigation into the allegations related to the VA,” a Justice Department spokesman told The Hill in a statement. “Federal prosecutors will be working with these investigators to determine whether there is a basis for criminal charges.”
FBI Director James Comey also confirmed before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday that the bureau's Phoenix branch has opened a criminal investigation into the VA, though he had earlier stated the agency would not get involved.
The announcement comes just two days after the VA’s inspector general released details of the nationwide audit it conducted of the agency’s clinics and hospitals nationwide.
More than 57,000 veterans have been waiting at least 90 days to see a doctor at the facilities, the internal review found.
After the audit’s release on Monday, VA’s acting Inspector General Richard Griffin told lawmakers the VA is working with the Justice Department to determine whether any criminal charges should be brought.
The allegations prompted Eric Shinseki to resign as head of the VA on May 30. President Obama tapped Sloan Gibson as his interim successor.
This story was last updated at 2:08 p.m.