The Washington Post has given four "Pinocchios" to President Barack Obama's claim that his administration has fired many of the people running various VA facilities that were at the heart of wait-time scandals regarding the poor treatment of American veterans — meaning the commander in chief's statement was completely untrue.
“I don’t want to, in any way, pretend that we are where we need to be, but we have, in fact, fired a whole bunch of people who are in charge of these facilities," Obama told CNN's Jake Tapper at a town hall in Fort Lee, Virginia, on Sept. 28.
However, after doing some fact-checking, the Post found that only three employees were removed from their jobs as a result of the scandal. One received a 15-day suspension while another was proposed to be removed but ultimately got to stay. Three more VA employees retired or resigned as the agency was reviewing possible disciplinary action against them, five more resigned before they could be fired and two were demoted, but later reinstated to their previous positions.
President Barack Obama pauses during a break in taping of a CNN town hall meeting with CNN news anchor Jake Tapper in Fort Lee, Virginia, with members of the military community on Sept. 28. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
That means while "a whole bunch" of employees who may have had a hand in the patient wait-time scandal are no longer with the agency, only three employees who were "in charge," as Obama said, were actually fired.
VA spokeswoman Victoria Glynn told the Post that the Choice Act gave the government the authority to fire those three individuals but that the law isn't the only one that informs such decisions. Asked how many people were fired under the authority of any other act besides the Choice Act, the Post reported it did not get an answer.
Phoenix VA director Sharon Helman and four other senior executives were either removed or demoted from their jobs under the Choice Act, but the Post reported those actions had little, if anything, to do with patient wait-times. Of the five, only Helman's case reportedly involved wait-times. Helman, however, wasn't ultimately fired for that reason. Instead, She was let go after failing to disclose thousands of dollars in lobbyist gifts.
At least seven more VA employees were recommended to be removed from their jobs but ultimately managed to keep working for the agency. Six non-senior executives were fired for their roles in the patient wait-time scandal, but the Post did not include those since Obama specified that people "in charge" had been fired.