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Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigns | Sen. Isakson statement added

Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson will step in as interim chief of VA

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki addresses reporters after testifying before a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on VA health care, on Capitol Hill on May 15. Following the inspector general’s report confirming what many critics were saying about the agency, pressure is increasing for Shinseki to resign. (Reuter/Jonathan Ernst)

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki addresses reporters after testifying before a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on VA health care, on Capitol Hill on May 15. Following the inspector general’s report confirming what many critics were saying about the agency, pressure is increasing for Shinseki to resign. (Reuter/Jonathan Ernst)

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said this morning that U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over a veterans healthcare delay scandal that has embarrassed the administration, explaining Shinseki did not want to be a "distraction" as the problem was fixed.

Shinseki stepped down during a meeting with the president at the White House earlier on Friday. Obama said he named Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson to lead the agency as he looks for a permanent replacement.

Obama also said Friday that the Justice Department will determine whether any criminal charges are warranted in the VA scandal.

U.S. Sen. Johnnny Isakson, R-Marietta, questioned Shinseki at his May 15 appearance before the Senate VA Committee. He said today that the secretary did the right thing.

“Now that the facts are coming in, including the release of the VA Inspector General’s report, it is clear that Secretary Shinseki has made the right decision that is in the best interest of the VA and himself," Iskason said. "It is now critical that we move to focus on who and what has caused the wrongdoing and put into place a new system of accountability for the future. We need to institute a culture of safety and timely service to our veterans.”