American Legion: We Have Totally Lost Confidence in Shinseki

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The American Legion's Louis Celli told CNN Wednesday that the organization had totally "lost confidence" in Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's ability to get the job done.

"Secretary Shinseki was brought in specifically after being Chief of Staff for the Army to change the culture of the VA. At one point, the American Legion even stood behind him and defended him, and we've just lost confidence," he told Wolf Blitzer.

"We think at this point, Secretary Shinseki is nothing more than a distraction," he added. "The only time that we're going to be able to watch the VA start to heal and get better is after this leadership is done. We start to infuse new leadership, we start to clean it up from the middle, from the bottom and from the top."

Full exchange:

WOLF BLITZER: Your organization, a powerful organization, a very important organization. you want the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, to step down. The president says he is in the middle of an investigation right now. He's got an audit under way. The inspector general's report is about to come out. He doesn't want to fire someone, at least not yet until he has all the information. What's wrong with that?

LOUIS CELLI: Well, Wolf, the president has had the information, and so has Secretary Shinseki, at least since 2010. There was a memo that came out that was introduced in the hearing last Thursday that specifically said these are the ways the VA is gaming the system and we need it to stop. We need it to stop immediately. So for four years, Secretary Shinseki had the time to get in front of this and to put an end to it, and now we're just hearing from the president today that now is the time for it to stop. The time for it to stop was four years ago. Secretary Shinseki was brought in specifically after being Chief of Staff for the Army to change the culture of the VA. At one point, the American Legion even stood behind him and defended him, and we've just lost confidence.

BLITZER: You've totally lost confidence.

CELLI: We've totally.

BLITZER: You as the spokesman for the American Legion, you want him to go away.

CELLI: It's time. We think at this point, Secretary Shinseki is nothing more than a distraction. The only time that we're going to be able to watch the VA start to heal and get better is after this leadership is done. We start to infuse new leadership, we start to clean it up from the middle, from the bottom and from the top.