By Benjamin Goad - 05/13/14 03:49 PM EDT
Attorney Gen. Eric Holder said Tuesday that incendiary allegations involving preventable deaths at clinics overseen by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are in his “radar screen,” but the nation’s top law enforcement said he had not launched an investigation into the scandal.
Holder, at a briefing with reporters at the Justice Department, said an ongoing probe by the VA’s Office of Inspector General should be allowed to run its course.
“Obviously we’ll monitor the results of that inquiry, and try to get to the bottom of what happened,” he said.
However, Holder did not rule out the possibility of a Justice Department involvement with the investigation into roughly 40 deaths at a Phoenix clinic, or allegations about false record keeping at other facilities that surfaced in recent days.
“Every part of this administration, and this Department of Justice as well, takes these allegations extremely seriously,” he said. “When I say we are monitoring, that doesn’t imply inaction on our part. Monitoring is an active thing that we are doing.”
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has faced GOP calls for his resignation since revelations last month that a the Phoenix clinic placed some patients on a secret wait list to make it appear as though they were treated quickly.
A whistleblower has said 40 deaths might have resulted from the practice.
Other allegations about false record keeping also surfaced at a Fort Collins, Colo., clinic overseen by the VA.
Holder said his office would be open to dedicating Justice Department resources to the investigation
“To the extent that we make a determination that federal assistance, either by federal agents or prosecutors, would be necessary, we would obviously do that,” Holder said.