Special Report: Sen. John McCain tells KUSI VA report worse than predicted

Here it is, the straw that broke the camel’s back: the VA Inspector General’s report, an indictment of a corrupt system. When Senator John McCain read it Wednesday morning, he immediately called for the resignation of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. And, in an exclusive interview with KUSI-TV, he went further.

“I am saying that the Justice Department needs to investigate into whether criminal activity has taken place. Because there are such things as falsification of records and allegations that are not just bureaucratic problems, but if those allegations are true or of criminal activity.”

Those allegations, supported by the Inspector General’s report released Wednesday, are that VA officials at 6 facilities in Arizona cooked the books – hiding secret waiting lists that contained the names of thousands of veterans requesting medical care. The report goes on to reveal 1,700 vets who requested care were not on any list. And more: at least 23 Arizona veterans died while waiting for care.

“I’m willing to give anyone the benefit of innocence until proven guilty, but some of these charges involve criminal activity – not bureaucratic ineptitude.”

With McCain’s demands for justice, pressure mounts on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shiseki, to resign or be fired. Shiseki, a retired U.S. Army four-star General, is himself a wounded war vet who lost part of one foot in a landmine explosion while on patrol in Vietnam. Despite the respect he has earned, even fellow vets – such as McCain – are saying the scandal has gone far enough.

“I had written a letter about a month ago to Shiseki about these waiting lists and his letter, that I just received yesterday, his response – basically, since 2012 – they had been fixing the problem. We know that’s not true.”

If there are 1,700 people off the waiting lists in the Phoenix VA district, what might be going on nationwide?

“Well, I think that it will clearly be nationwide, because the same procedures that took place at the Phoenix VA since they couldn’t meet the requirements laid down by the VA, so they started cooking the books. It’s also apparently the case in other VA facilities. Already, there’s allegations at 26 other facilities throughout the country. This is a centipede – a lot more shoes will drop, I’m sorry to say.”

This naval aviator, whose 2008 presidential campaign featured his passionate plea for America’s military vets, takes this scandal personally.

“From the calls and letters and personal encounters that I’ve had with the veterans, they’ve lost confidence in the VA. And so, that requires, I think, a dynamic, new leader that could restore that confidence.”

McCain didn’t stop there. For the interview in its entirety, click here.

Categories: KUSI