WASHINGTON, D.C. — The head of the Department of Veterans Affairs said Wednesday that he's been trying to get "this damn resignation business" straightened out with the president all day, but he's been sitting on hold with The White House for hours, Duffel Blog has learned.
"The American Legion wants me to resign, so fine, I'll resign," Shinsheki said, placing his phone on speaker as The White House hold music stopped to announce 'Your call is important to us. Please remain on the line.' "Unfortunately, I can't get through to anyone at The White House. It's like they don't even care about me personally or have any interest in my needs."
After a major scandal involving the Phoenix VA keeping a "secret waiting list" for patient appointments — resulting in the deaths of at least 40 veterans — The American Legion veterans group called on Shinseki and two other top VA executives to step down.
But it's not that simple, according to department regulations. His call to the president to request his resignation is just the first step, as he'll need to submit a written request for review, which can take six to 12 months. That could be longer if he's denied and wants to appeal.
"If I could call the Legion directly and resign directly to them, that would be great," Shinseki said, as The White House hold music transitioned to Pharrell Williams "Happy." Moments later, the phone, which had been on hold for roughly five hours, suddenly disconnected.
"Goddamnit!" Shinseki said. "Goddamn piece of shit White House. I sit on my ass on hold for hours and then they disconnect me. God I hate the goddamn White House. No wonder so many VA secretaries are committing suicide."
At press time, Shinseki had given up on calling to search for pay stubs that would prove to his finance office he had not been overpaid $452,395, as a letter from the VA chief financial officer claimed.
Drew contributed reporting.