WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says if there's misconduct at the Department of Veterans Affairs, it will be punished.
Obama says if the allegations of misconduct prove to be true, it is dishonorable and disgraceful. He says, quote, "I will not tolerate it, period."
Obama says he won't stand for people covering up long wait times or cooking the books. He says no American should, but he is also asking for patience while investigators get to the bottom of what happened.
His remarks Wednesday came after a meeting with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and top aide Rob Nabors. Obama has tasked Nabors, his deputy chief of staff, with overseeing a review of the VA health system.
The administration is under mounting pressure from Congress to address troubling allegations of treatment delays and preventable deaths at VA hospitals. The VA Inspector General's office said late Tuesday that 26 facilities are being investigated nationwide - up from 10 just last week - including a Phoenix hospital where 40 veterans allegedly died while waiting for treatment and staff there kept a secret list of patients waiting for appointments to hide delays in care.
Obama said that anybody found to have to have manipulated records will be held accountable. But he appealed for patience as his deputy chief of staff, Rob Nabors, undertakes a review of VA policies, which is expected to be finished next week.
The president spoke hours before the House was scheduled to vote later Wednesday on a bill that would grant the VA secretary more authority to fire or demote senior executives. The White House has said it shares the goals of the House measure - to ensure accountability at the VA - but has concerns about some of the details.
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