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Senator on Veterans Affairs Allegations: ‘Just Because CNN Says Something, Doesn’t Always Make It The Case’ (Video)

During Senate floor debate Wednesday over authorizing funds for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 18 states, the Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders criticized members for jumping to conclusions over alleged misconduct at VA facilities, including in Phoenix, Ariz., which has received extensive media attention following a CNN report last week .  

“I am not a lawyer, but I did learn enough in school to know that you don’t find somebody guilty without assessing the evidence,” the Vermont Independent said. “And frankly, just because CNN says something, doesn’t always make it the case.”  

Some Senate Republicans, including Minority Whip John Cornyn, called for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign on Tuesday, while others, such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have refused to call for Shinseki’s ouster until hearings are held and the Inspector General’s report is complete. Sanders called the allegations very serious, and said he would hold hearings on the issue.  

“What we need is a serious, independent investigation in the very serious allegations about Phoenix and any other facility within the VA, and what I have said is that I will hold hearings immediately — more than one hearing if necessary — to get to the truth of the matter regarding the VA situation in Phoenix.”  

Sarah Chacko and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.