President Obama has just finished a meeting with Veterans Administration Secretary Eric Shinseki and is scheduled to make comments from the White House at 11:15 AM ET. A live feed from the White House is at the top of this post and we'll provide updates throughout the president's remarks.
8:18 AM PT: President Obama begins by saying he met with Secretary Shinseki and Rob Nabors, the White House aide tasked to the VA problems. He says they told him their review shows widespread misconduct throughout the system. Shinseki, Obama says, offered his resignation. Obama says "with considerable regret" he accepted the resignation.
8:21 AM PT: "I'm grateful for his service [...] but as he told me this morning, the VA needs new leadership" to fix its problems. The president says Shinseki does not "to be a distraction." In the meantime, Sloan Gibson will run the VA on an interim basis.
8:26 AM PT: In response to a question about what changed in his judgment of Shinseki, the president says the deciding factor was Shinseki's view that he would be a distraction. "I want to reiterate," the president says, "he's a good person." He's walking a fine line here, trying to salute Shinseki's exemplary leadership while explaining why he accepted the resignation. "He's been a champion of our veterans [...] he's not adverse to admitting where there's a problem and going after it." But "we've also got to deal with Congress, and you guys [the media], and I think it was Rick's judgment that he could not carry out the next stages of reform without being a distraction himself."
8:26 AM PT: "I regret that he has to resign under these circumstances," the president says.
8:32 AM PT: The second question is whether criminal activity occurred, and whether the president feels he is personally responsible. The president says the question of criminality is something DOJ will need to address. On the question of responsibility, he says that ultimately, as president, it's his responsibility. But he also offers a defense of the work that he has done on behalf of veterans, and says that he wasn't aware of the scheduling problems at the heart of the current controversy. Aside from fixing the underlying problem, the president is also concerned about how it was possible for these problems to persist without being surfaced, because you can only fix a problem once you know about it.
8:33 AM PT: The president, in a point that implicitly takes on the privatizers, says that the quality of health care at the V.A. is excellent: The issue is the wait list, he says—but when people get access to the system, the care is great.
8:35 AM PT: Final question is whether Shinseki is a scapegoat—whether the firing was political. President Obama says that politics comes into play in the sense that he wants a V.A. secretary that can be focused on the task at hand instead of outside political distractions imposed by Congress and the press.
8:39 AM PT: And with that, the press conference has concluded.