Eric Shinseki Apologizes for VA Scandal

President Obama called the Veterans Affairs Chief to the White House for a meeting.
10:45 | 05/30/14

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Transcript for Eric Shinseki Apologizes for VA Scandal
This is a special group. I apologized. Senior -- of the department of veterans. I extend an apology to people much care most deeply about this veterans of this -- from. To their families and lone -- who. -- been honored to serve. For over five years it's called -- life. I also offer an apology and members of congress who have supported. -- position. Partners for five years. The American people all of them all deserve better from. There. Veterans affairs secretary Eric should set you this morning speaking -- the national coalition of homeless veterans. Clearly unhappy not -- sounding like a man with plans to abandon his post. It went down -- Ernie or an ABC news digital special report President Obama meeting with embattled should -- in the Oval Office this morning. So the latest ordering an ABC's Rick Klein and washing with all of the developments for this Friday -- the question on everyone's mind right now does actions that he walked out of this meeting with the president. With the job. Not if he has anything to do with it but he may not be the final word the key here is whether the president. Once the push and -- is clearly he is not going on his own he gave a speech this morning that was apologetic at times. Also defiant at times -- saying that he plans to stay on to to lead. The agency through difficult times now. Is -- this is a weird kind of split screen on your dad because of the same time this is going on we have the White House not expressing any confidence at all in general should sect in staying on. And even in an interview -- present Obama himself today where he says that he's going to have a frank conversation a serious conversation with generals exactly. About whether he is equipped to lead the agency through this time. That sounds a lot like someone who is about to get fired and whether general -- -- he knows it or not that's the atmosphere that he's -- -- walking into in the Oval Office. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- To fix this mess it. Have taken upon. I initiated the process for the removal of the senior leaders of Phoenix -- it's. We refused all authority at our disposal to enforce accountability when senior leaders were involved instigated tolerated dishonorable or irresponsible scheduling. Product. VA health care facilities. I'm also directed -- no -- hearings receive an entire performance award. 2014. Issue. Are so Rick you hear the applause there were put into context there for folks -- becoming a little late to this story why issues that he's place in the veteran community. -- -- he is the secretary of veteran affairs and has been for five years he's a decorated general. Vietnam War veteran beloved by many in the veterans community but we have seen this through this growing sense of outrage over the the flaws that have -- in the system. A sense of frustration around his leadership and the fact that these problems that would have been known about going back to 2008 President Obama himself talked about him as a candidate for president. The hope was that general should -- -- cleanup and that's clearly he has not. Clearly he's been learning about things -- by his own account for the first time. In the last couple weeks and months via. Outside reports and media reports so. I think there's more frustration is a split now in the veterans' community as -- missions that he needs to go or not no one questions its commitment to veterans that's not the issue here in the president. In self goes out as -- continue to say that the issue is whether he's equipped to lead the agency at this time and that's where the doubts -- to come -- given the size and the scope of these problems and also this morning making this comment on essentially turning the tables on congress listen. And I'll ask congress to support senator Bernie Sanders propose -- get engaged secretary. Greater authority to remove senior leaders. And I asked the support of congress the film existing PA leadership positions. Still. Again the situation. Can be things. With PA UBS congress from all of our staples like many of you miserable working together. With -- best actress for veterans. It is in the days. It. Does so Rick give me a lesson in this than what is been Congress's record with the VA and isn't the first -- the -- leaders. And ask congress for more money or support. Delegates -- -- and always a constant complaint you'll never have enough in terms of resources they'll always ask about it this is not lost any issue about the flexibility in management structure as well. I think you'll receive debate in Washington over the next couple weeks and months about how to respond to the -- scandal whether or not general should -- -- in the job and I don't think you'll continue to be in the job. Do you solve the problem essentially by throwing more money -- forty solvent to be racist about blowing up and privatizing large portions of -- providing vouchers for veterans to go into the private system. I'd imagine though for general consecutive -- involved in the debate this time the reaction in congress is it is something else for you to be seeing you need the power. To fire more people when more than a hundred members of congress are calling for you yourself to be fired it's a little late to be talking about that reform part of it. And I -- anyone is seriously suggesting that the problems in the VA. -- because general options -- wasn't able to fire people he wanted to he doesn't seem to have known about this it also does not seem to be a funding issue directly of course they'd always like more in terms of money. But the systemic abuses of the wait times -- secret wait lists that we're talking about here that has a lot more with the systemic corruption and problems and said the agency. And it has to do about funding levels. Answer not mentioned -- is meeting behind closed doors in the Oval Office with the president it begs the question. Is the president not really one to cut the cord with a cabinet member right I mean no matter how many in congress are demanding that he kept on health and human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius through the obamacare rollout -- Is this bigger than just the VA urges air action -- himself. It gets to the leadership style of President Obama and the way that he is thought there's two different things I think in his mind on this one is. That just and rational perspective if you if you there when a -- created you may be the best person to clean it up. -- you know the inner workings of the agency and moving forward. You may be the best person to do it the second is that he likes to resist the the public Washington fervor that -- that surrounds the the call for ahead it is the Washington tradition of -- saying fire fire fire fire fire he -- resist -- I don't care what members of congress I don't care what the media firestorm has -- -- Karen my critics are saying on the right or even in my own party. I'm gonna do what's right now the flip side of that is that again from a management perspective what you hear from people as well you have to set an example. -- -- from the top of -- actual accountability not just saying -- hold people accountable. Actual accountability. A fresh set of eyes someone who can come innings in -- look the system truly is. Flawed and broken and we have to blow it up that is a lot of value in that the president doesn't necessarily -- so if he moves against insect -- be the first time. In his White House that he moves actively to fire someone and it is not the first time that there's been a big fervor. Around that more than a hundred members of congress I have been asking for him to resign to step down on a -- on both sides of the aisle. Speaker Boehner in fact none of the problems though. Are going deeper than one man is so if you take those comments by speaker Boehner and other folks in particular. -- -- the tone is gonna change egyptians techie is still on the job this afternoon. Well here's the thing that Republicans are concerned about from a political standpoint is that if the -- if -- is that he is fired. Then President Obama looks like he's the hero and they want to they don't want the accountability to stop there isn't just Democrats political perspective they want to make sure that the pressure stays on the administration. Adding to have a point in that that's not gonna fix anything you so this is going to be a huge management issue for whoever. Fills the shoes at the VA secretary whether its general -- -- or someone else is gonna be really hard to get done. And the political battle lines as I mentioned you will be drawn around more funding. Or more drastic remaking of the VA system that battle will be joined momentarily. And I think the concern among some Republicans and why that 115 or so members of congress is in 315. Is that they don't want this to be all about general -- -- they wanna get -- of the root of the problem and from their perspective. That problem has to do with government services in general whether that's the DA or anyone else providing this health care they would like to see a partial. Privatization of the VA health system that would allow veterans to go to private health care providers. Right at the top of those remarks -- that he made this morning he really laid out the issues somewhat suggesting though that this news in fact. Wasn't really news is -- said. Me address the elephant in the room today and -- them very generous. Played her well. After Wednesday's release -- An inspector general report. We now know Olivier has a systemic. Totally unacceptable lack of integrity and essential. -- That breach of trust. Involved in tracking impatiently natural ones. Our national -- because of our ongoing internal review other bars is health care facilities -- solution that be true. That regional integrity as a responsible it is indefensible. And -- -- -- So as he points out there this latest rash of outrage really. A break -- for a preliminary inspector general report what is the final report though expected out. The final report from inspector general is expected this summer in August of this is that you just a small taste of what they've got out there and it's adding to the public. Perceptions around is now general -- sacking himself we expected he's going to be delivering his report to congress. This afternoon there's also a White House audit going on so all is certain reports -- all the different shoes that are set to drop not just today but in the coming weeks and months and this is not going away again whether or not general options that he keeps his job beyond today and I think the Smart money is that that is unlikely. This will be -- continuing story and a continuing story around government bureaucracy that needs some serious reforms. ABC's political director Rick -- Washington DC on this Friday morning Rick thank you retirements -- appreciate that. And we do have a live shot of the White House aware generous -- that he is expected just moments from now he'll be meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office without me. Latest veterans affairs to buckle that it's happening right now. This has been an ABC news digital special report and you can keep up with this story in real time by downloading the ABC news apps starring the story for exclusive updates on the go. For now I'm Dan -- in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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