President Obama said Friday he has accepted the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in the wake of major problems within the health care system for veterans.
Obama — who made the announcement minutes after meeting with Shinseki — said he regretted accepting the resignation, but "the VA needs new leadership" and he agreed with the secretary's own assessment that he has become too much of a distraction.
"We don't have time for distractions," Obama said. "We need to fix the problem."
Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson will take temporary charge of the department, Obama said, adding that he will nominate a new permanent secretary soon.
Obama began what he called a "serious conversation" with Shinseki Friday just hours after the VA secretary apologized to all veterans and the nation for scandal involving the systemic delay of health care to veterans.
While accepting Shinseki's resignation, Obama went out of his way to praise the retired four-star general.