FBI opening up criminal probe of VA

posted at 2:31 pm on June 12, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The pressure brought by Congress to get to the bottom of the massive wait-list fraud at the Department of Veterans Affairs has prompted the FBI to open a criminal probe, at least of the offices in Phoenix which were the epicenter of the scandal. FBI Director James Comey revealed that the agency has begun working with the VA’s Inspector General on its probe, sharing data and collecting evidence to determine whether prosecution will take place. Whether that FBI probe extends beyond Phoenix depends on what the IG finds elsewhere, Comey told a House panel:

The FBI says it has opened a criminal investigation of the Veterans Affairs Department, which is grappling with a scandal over long waiting lists to provide care and allegations that paperwork was faked to make delays appear shorter.

FBI Director James Comey told a House hearing on Wednesday the bureau’s Phoenix office has joined an ongoing review by the VA inspector general.

The move at least partly satisfies requests from key members of Congress from both parties who have pressed for a full probe by the Justice Department as the scandal accelerated in recent weeks and led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in May.

The number of facilities now under investigation by the IG has increased to 69, so the FBI may be very busy indeed. The indications from the VA’s own internal investigation is that the fraud was endemic, and that’s just not going to be possible without some direction from the main office. Anderson Cooper got an update from Drew Griffin last night after the hearing concluded:

Also, Jake Tapper reports that two members of Congress now accuse the VA of obstructing their own probe into the VA scandal:

After stories emerged of long waiting lists for veterans trying to get appointments for health care within the VA system, on May 28, Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pennsylvania, received an unusual phone call from Pittsburgh VA director and CEO Terry Gerigk Wolf and deputy director David Cord, sources tell CNN.

Cord told Murphy, the congressman says, that an internal audit indicated that the Pittsburgh VA “passed with flying colors,” with the exception of those veterans seeking appointments in podiatry.

“I don’t believe that,” Murphy said, according to people on the call.

Murphy says he was taken off guard by the phone call. Officials with the Pittsburgh VA – which has had significant problems in the past, with an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease in 2011 and 2012 that left at least six veterans dead – never independently picks up the phone to call him, his staffers say.

“It is my belief the purpose of the unannounced call was not to provide me the facts on patient wait times at the Pittsburgh VA, but was a smokescreen to prevent me from understanding what exactly was going on there,” Murphy told CNN. “I’ve heard the ‘all is okay’ message in midst of management failures too many times from the VA to believe it on face value ever again.”

The congressman compared notes with his fellow western Pennsylvanian, Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle.

Doyle said that Wolf had told him something quite different – that Pittsburgh had up to 700 patients on this wait list, called the NEAR (New Enrollee Appointment Request) List, for veterans enrolling for the first time. Some of these veterans had been waiting years for their first appointment.

Doyle and Murphy say they called Wolf, who told them she knew about the list three weeks before, but was told not to inform the congressional delegation about it for fear she would be fired for disclosing the information.

As the FBI formally enters the scandal for the first time, the Senate passed the Sanders-McCain reform act by a 93-3 vote. The House has passed a similar bill unanimously, and the normal means to reconcile the two will be a conference committee. How formal that process will need to be remains to be seen:

Some differences will have to be reconciled, but lawmakers and aides expect that can be done without a lengthy formal conference and predicted that each chamber will simply moderately alter their bills to clear both the House and Senate. Both chambers have taken slightly different paths on how to fire incompetent VA executives, for example, with the Senate concerned the House is removing due process from firing decisions.

But on health care, there is not much daylight between the two proposals. The Senate’s bill boosts hiring of doctors and nurses, authorizes the leasing of 27 new VA medical facilities and allow veterans to seek private health care outside the VA system if necessary — provisions mostly in line with the House-passed bill. Adding to the VA momentum, the White House issued a statement on Wednesday supporting the Senate’s bill.

Even small differences might be easier to bridge in conference, rather than have amendments go through normal order to bring the language into concordance in each chamber. The point, though, is that this is moving fast — and that speed puts pressure on the VA and the FBI to move with haste as well.

Speaking of pressure, Barack Obama’s certainly getting some for his handling of the scandal too:

As the situation continues to unfold at the VA, 29% of all Americans say they approve of the way Obama is handling the situation involving veterans at VA hospitals, with 63% disapproving. When asked to rate the president on a variety of issues, more Americans approve of his handling of other issues, including the environment (47%), terrorism (42%), and the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (38%). While approval is not high on any of these matters, the rather low rating of Obama’s handling of the VA scandal is significant, especially paired with how closely Americans are following the issue.

Gallup notes that it’s not impacting his overall approval rating … yet. It’s certainly not helping it, though.


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How this dufus remains above single-digit approvals is twilight zone-ish.

HomeoftheBrave on June 12, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Nothing will impact his overall score methinks …..

He shouldn’t be where he is at now

cmsinaz on June 12, 2014 at 2:37 PM

What took that thug, Holder, so long?

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Only the tip of the VA iceberg has been uncovered.

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Finally. An actual scandal.

libfreeordie on May 19, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:39 PM

100 million in bonuses. What Is the death toll up to now?

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Ned of HA, this is just for you

Plus, Obama gets 29/63 rating on handling VA scandal.

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:40 PM

HomeoftheBrave on June 12, 2014 at 2:35 PM

The polls are rigged. You can make a poll come out any way that you want.

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:41 PM

100 million in bonuses. What Is the death toll up to now?

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Shitseki initiated the bonus-program. He should burn in Hades because NO gov’t servants should ever get bonuses. They never produce a profit.

This is all criminal and I hope many, from the top on down, go to rot in prison.

obama owns this, the charlatan.

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:41 PM

The FBI might do all sorts of things but Holder won’t act on any wrong doing. And who is this 29% brain dead that approve of Obama’s handling of this mess? You know, that’s a lot of stupid running around lose in the country.

Cindy Munford on June 12, 2014 at 2:42 PM

421/0 was the House vote to speed up the VA health-services.

Where is the senate? I Harry’s azz.

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:37 PM

We see more and more of it each day.

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Where are you, you doltish trolls?

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Pretty disgusting to know that deserter Bergdahl was getting first class hospital treatment when vets who served with honor can’t even get a doctor’s appointment.

tommyboy on June 12, 2014 at 2:43 PM

100 million in bonuses. What Is the death toll up to now?

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Remember 2009…

When execs got bonuses….

And the Dems were outraged…..

Buses were chartered….
protests…..

The Dems passed a law to tax these people at 90% of their bonuses….

I wonder if history will repeat itself….?

Electrongod on June 12, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Yes he does. He owns a rather long list of bad acts. Unfortunately our congress is full of spineless stupid corrupt cowards who refuse to perform their jobs and IMPEACH him.

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Electrongod on June 12, 2014 at 2:45 PM

EG, remind me again how many veterans lost their lives in that fiasco that so enraged the dems?

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:46 PM

I am so sick and tired of this Obama gets 29/63 % in handling this or that, and then in the general polls his approval ratings are immutable at 40-43% which is surreal for his dismall lrecord.

jimver on June 12, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Has anybody told Obama about this yet?

de rigueur on June 12, 2014 at 2:47 PM

EG, remind me again how many veterans lost their lives in that fiasco that so enraged the dems?

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:46 PM

None….

Electrongod on June 12, 2014 at 2:47 PM

tommyboy on June 12, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Please sit down before reading the next bit.

I read a report yesterday they may provide him with over 200k in back pay.

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Yes he does. He owns a rather long list of bad acts. Unfortunately our congress is full of spineless stupid corrupt cowards who refuse to perform their jobs and IMPEACH him.

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:45 PM


No wonder obama bemoans the Cantor loss.

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:48 PM

de rigueur on June 12, 2014 at 2:47 PM

What? Before tee time? Jeez, get your priorities right.

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Ramirez
+100

Obama as Knitting, Comics Reading Pajama Boy
Priceless

petefrt on June 12, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Electrongod on June 12, 2014 at 2:47 PM

I wonder how many busses full of union goons the dems will launch over THIS scandal…

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:48 PM

subZero has little to fear from Bonehead though. It appears the house GOP isn’t taking the hint.

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:52 PM

subZero has little to fear from Bonehead though. It appears the house GOP isn’t taking the hint.

dogsoldier on June 12, 2014 at 2:52 PM

No, they aren’t.

GOP source: “we’re going to end up with 1, maybe 2 people in (House) leadership who don’t qualify as grown-up and/or ready for primetime”

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:54 PM

OT

Democrats, Don’t Dance on Cantor’s Grave Because you’ll be digging your own in November

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Doesn’t the FBI work for the DOJ?

Sven on June 12, 2014 at 2:56 PM

And by the way, “War on Vets”

Sven on June 12, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Obama has no one to blame but himself. He made stupendous promises like healing the planet and turning back the rising seas, but they were only lies. He paid lip service to the VA scandal when he was sworn in and then promptly ignored it to establish his legacy. And now he claims he just found out about it in the news.

The sad part is Obama honestly thinks in his mind that he did everything correctly and it is everyone else’s fault that his second term is falling apart around his ears.

Remember, the World disappoints Obama, not the other way around. Textbook Delusional.

Johnnyreb on June 12, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Barring something entirely unforeseen, the Republicans will retain control of the House of Representatives in November, and in the wake of Eric Cantor’s ouster, will be even less inclined to compromise with the White House. The key battle will be for the Senate, and at this point—given the unpopularity of President Obama and his programs in the states that could decide the outcome—the Republicans are a good bet to regain the Senate. The recent scandal involving Bowe Bergdahl and the older scandal about Benghazi won’t decide the outcome, but they are certainly not going to help the Democrats. It’s not 1998, when Republican exploitation of a White House sex scandal actually cost them seats in the House.

Add the VA to their woes.

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Does everybody poop?

libfreeorgan on June 11, 2014 at 9:23 AM

KOOLAID2 on June 12, 2014 at 2:59 PM

I figure 25% is the lowest approval 0bama could ever get on anything, regardless of actual performance. There is a lunatic fringe of 25% that will NEVER disapprove of anything he does. So that means he only got 4% of convincible people to approve…

HornHiAceDeuce on June 12, 2014 at 2:59 PM

But the Democrats’ situation this year is very different. The economy is still in the doldrums, Obama is unpopular, and Republican scandal-mongering is unlikely to generate a backlash. In 1998, many Democrats took offense at the Republican impeachment efforts because they were aimed not merely at censuring Clinton, but at unseating him. To date, the Republicans have not used the Benghazi and Bergdahl scandals to call for Obama’s removal. Instead, they have merely called for investigations. And as recent polls have shown, many Democrats and Independents, as well as Republicans, favor an investigation into Benghazi and are critical of the administration’s deal with the Taliban for Bergdahl’s release. That probably means that the scandals will be a small, and probably temporary, net plus for the Republicans. They will cast a pall over the White House and, with an assist from Fox News, fire up the Republican base.

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:59 PM

FBI opening up criminal probe legal whitewash of VA

ReWrite™ engaged for accuracy.

Steve Eggleston on June 12, 2014 at 3:02 PM

FBI Director Comey

….Comey like Carney is just a spokes slut for JugEars!

KOOLAID2 on June 12, 2014 at 3:02 PM

This is just a dodge, so from now on President Prissypants McChoomer and his administration can say “No Comment”.

slickwillie2001 on June 12, 2014 at 3:03 PM

How stupid can you get? The Pittsburgh VA called to say everything was fine before being asked. That has suspicious written all over it.

crankyoldlady on June 12, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Obama gets 29/63 rating on handling VA scandal.

In an unrelated study, 29% of Americans get free Obamaphones.

mankai on June 12, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Only the tip of the VA iceberg has been uncovered.

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 2:37 PM

True

Key West Reader on June 12, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Keep Obama in preznit, you know?
He gave us a phone!
He gonna do more!</em

Galtian on June 12, 2014 at 3:16 PM

I’m sure the bill will get stuck in the Senate while Dingy Harry tries to figure out how to gain political capital for Dems and how he can funnel money into his own pocket. Can’t let a scandal go to waste.

xdwall on June 12, 2014 at 3:22 PM

FBI opening up criminal probe of VA

Whitewash.

Oh, there may be a couple of sacrificial lambs…probably getting ready to retire anyway, or they’ll land more lucrative jobs elsewhere via the “system”.

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 12, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Has anybody told Obama about this yet?

de rigueur on June 12, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Man, is he ever going to be miffed. Outrageous outrage is a-comin’.

iurockhead on June 12, 2014 at 3:34 PM

If I recall, this is an already used tactic for scandal cover-ups by the Obama administration.

When the normal stalling and stonewalling doesn’t work, open an FBI investigation so you can then claim an inability to comment on an ongoing investigation.

It is, of course, another stall tactic to get the scandal out of the news. Once it’s sufficiently “old news” the FBI will come out (quietly) and say that no criminal wrong doing was found.

makattak on June 12, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Get with it FBI, that was the Dear Liar’s muck up last week… shesh..

Torcert on June 12, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Like every other ‘internal’ investigation, this will yield zero culpability.

Midas on June 12, 2014 at 3:59 PM

All the senior leadership of the VA and the regional director all need to fired today. They then all need to be charged with conspiracy and fraud and tried. If found guilty they need to have all govt benefits suspended – all pensions confiscated, fined an appropriately large amount of money, require all bonus money paid during the time in question be repaid and then sentenced to very long jail terms – at least 5 years – and not one in a minimum security joint.

Destroy each and every one of them. Regardless of which adminstration appointed or hired them. I would say the last VA cabinet member should be treated exactly the same way.

Zomcon JEM on June 12, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Should have been regional directorS. Oops.

Zomcon JEM on June 12, 2014 at 4:00 PM

I figure 25% is the lowest approval 0bama could ever get on anything, regardless of actual performance. There is a lunatic fringe of 25% that will NEVER disapprove of anything he does. So that means he only got 4% of convincible people to approve…

HornHiAceDeuce on June 12, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Kerrect!

One only has to access any Disqus-controlled article (such as some above heeadlines)to see the OFA loons that show up. (Of course, they may all be one person, as most have less than 30 comments or so. )

avagreen on June 12, 2014 at 4:05 PM