VA scandal dominates Sunday talk shows

VA scandal dominates Sunday talk shows
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The scandal involving a potential cover up of medical mistreatment of military veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs dominated discussion on the Sunday morning political talk shows. 

Lawmakers from both parties appeared on every channel to discuss the still-emerging VA scandal, calling for responses ranging from a Department of Justice investigation to the firing of VA Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric Ken ShinsekiBill HR 2333 is a good step to helping curb veteran suicide  Senate confirms Trump's VA pick despite opposition from some Dems Trump VA pick boosts hopes for reform MORE


Even Democrats said the scandal was unlikely to go away anytime soon. 

“We’re talking now about…credible and specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing across the country in more than 30 places,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said during an appearance on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” 

Blumenthal said the Obama administration should allow the Department of Justice to conduct a separate investigation of the complaints against the VA. 

“I believe that the Department of Justice has to be involved,” Blumenthal said. “I urged [VA] Secretary [Eric] Shinseki privately and in fact publicly to request and involve the Department of Justice.

“The inspector general of the Veterans Administration has only 165 investigators. Plainly more resources are needed,” Blumenthal continued. “Only the Department of Justice and the FBI has the resources, the expertise and the authority to do a prompt and effective criminal investigation of the secret waiting list, potential destruction of documents, falsification of records. In effect, cooking the books and covering up that may have occurred.”

Republicans were more critical of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s role in the scandal. Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress House Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad MORE (R-Ill.) said during another segment on “Face The National" that the secretary should be fired

“I think General Shinseki needs to go,” Kinzinger said. “He's a great American, but I don't think he's fit for this, I haven't even seen the level of outrage out of him that I think we ought to be hearing, to know that there were fake waiting lists to pad numbers.” 

President Obama, who made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday to meet with U.S. troops, has thus far resisted calls to fire Shinseki, arguing that the agency was attempting to make corrections through methods like allowing veterans to go to non-VA facilities more often to help ease the backlog.  

The chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs said Sunday that the problems at the VA would not be fixed simply by Shinseki’s departure, however.

“I believe people want to see accountability,” Rep. Jeff MillerJefferson (Jeff) Bingham MillerAn effective public service announcement can prevent vet suicides Empower the VA with the tools to help our veterans Amazon taps Trump ally to lobby amid Pentagon cloud-computing contract fight MORE (R-Fla.) said, adding that “this is much larger than the secretary of the Veterans Administration."

“You’ve got an entrenched bureaucracy that exists out there that is not held accountable that is shooting for goals that are not helping the veteran,” the Florida congressman said. “The person that is supposed to be served is not the bureaucrat. It’s the veteran.”

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday said he suspects some of the allegations surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs will be proven true, and that someone will eventually have take responsibility for the entire VA.

"Yeah, of course," Gen. Martin Dempsey said on ABC's "This Week" when asked if VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should be held accountable. 

"At some point, the chief executive, the chairman, whoever it is, has to take responsibility for the entire organization and its performance."

Meanwhile, an Iraq and Afghanistan veterans group on Sunday said the administration's decision to allow more veterans to get care through private facilities should have been taken years ago

"It is a no-brainer," Derek Bennett, the chief of staff for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said on "Fox News Sunday." 

"There have been plenty of studies of IG reports of GAO reports dating back to 2008 alleging gaming of the system," he added.

-Mario Trujillo contributed to this report.