OTR Interviews

Sen. Graham: Pres. Obama has failed veterans and their families, always a 'day late and a dollar short' on his scandals

President Obama says VA scandal allegations are 'disgraceful' and won't be tolerated ... but he'll continue to tolerate VA Secretary Shinseki. Sen. Lindsey Graham sounds off

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 21, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: You heard President Obama say it, "Nobody cares more about our veterans than Eric Shinseki." But caring is not the issue. Getting the job done is what matters.

Should the president fire the V.A. secretary? Senator Lindsey Graham joins us.

Nice to see you, sir. And should he be fired tonight?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Yeah, I think we need a new set of eyes on this problem. Here is what the president said: "Taking care of our veterans and their families has been one of the causes of my presidency." Well, then, you failed.

How could you find out about this on CNN? What did the White House know and when did they know it? Cooking the books is not only dishonorable and disgraceful, it's a crime. If the president really was hands-on, he'd appoint the FBI, tell the FBI to go in and investigate this crime. The president is always a day late and a dollar short on these things.

VAN SUSTEREN: What should happen? He should fire Shinseki, right?

GRAHAM: One, you have a crime being committed against veterans.

VAN SUSTEREN: Apparently, they are content to have an acting I.G. investigation.

GRAHAM: He should tell the FBI, go investigate this allegation of cooking the books cooking, which would be a federal crime. Find a new V.A. chief. Go to Phoenix yourself and apologize to the families. And come up with a solution.

In 2008, John McCain said, if I were president every veteran would have a card. They would have a choice. If the V.A. is serving you and your family, stay there. If they are not, take this card and go wherever you can find health care in the private sector. The president is not even embracing what the House passed today. Allowing people to be fired -- firing somebody in the V.A. Is very tough. This Accountability Act passed the House with only 35 dissenting votes would empower the V.A. to fire people. The president should embrace that bill and tell the Senate to take it up tomorrow.

VAN SUSTEREN: You brought up the bill just passed in the House. I'm unglued by the bill. I tell you this. It's because what it does is it gives the V.A. the authority, the top of the V.A. to fire the top people who are not working, who are dropping the ball in their jobs. What in the world prevented them from including the IRS, the Department of Justice, the FCC?

GRAHAM: Point well-taken.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is absurd that the House passes this bill and only giving one agency the power to fire people.

GRAHAM: Well-said. But is this a crime in the eyes of president? Did the people who cooked the books, did they commit a crime against our veterans? Has he offered a solution?

VAN SUSTEREN: One good way is to convene a grand jury. This has been going on for years.

GRAHAM: The president can't convene a grand jury. But what he can --

VAN SUSTEREN: No, Eric Holder.

VAN SUSTEREN: He can say, Mr. Attorney General, find out if this is true because, in my eyes, a crime has been committed. This is not disgraceful and dishonorable, it is a crime. The president is three weeks late to talk about this.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why? Where has he been on this?

GRAHAM: I don't know. They are probably finding out how this plays politically. If you really were mad, if it really bothered you, you would be out front. You would be the first personal to speak, not the last. He is very passionate about certain things like the ObamaCare website going down. If he had put half the energy in fixing this problem that he talked about the website --

VAN SUSTEREN: People died.

GRAHAM: -- veterans would feel better. Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: But if you get the message that 40 died, you are going to think that maybe more are going to die if I don't do something.

GRAHAM: You know you got it in 26 different facilities. The president of the United States for three weeks has been silent. I think we made him -- politicians in Congress made him speak. If he had it in his gut to really fix this, he would be on the phone -- the first guy on the phone, not the last guy -- telling the FBI I want to find out if a crime was committed against our veterans and he would be offering a solution to make sure this never happened again.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, so he doesn't have it in his gut? Is that what you are saying?

GRAHAM: Yeah. I think he doesn't have a sense of fixing the problem. Has he told you one thing is he going to do to fix this problem? Has he ever embraced the idea that what happened to the veterans was not just disgraceful but illegal? And to stand by the V.A. chief now, to me, makes no sense given his testimony on Capitol Hill. I like General Shinseki but I have no confidence in him.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's not the issue. That's not an issue of liking him. It's a question of whether he's doing the job.

GRAHAM: Yeah, he is not the right man to fix this problem, in my view. Starting over would be a great start. But why did it take three weeks? And did the president, honest to god, find out about this abuse in Phoenix through CNN? What kind of White House do you have when you have to find this out on the news?

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you.

GRAHAM: Thank you.