President Obama offered a strong vote of confidence to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, just weeks after the agency head stirred controversy for comparing the waits at VA hospitals to lines at Disneyland.
"I think Secretary McDonald has done a terrific job," Obama told the Colorado Gazette in an interview published Sunday.
"Since there's only eight months left in my administration, [McDonald's] got all the way until then to run through the tape," he added.
Dozens of GOP lawmakers blasted McDonald after his comments about VA clinics, including Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, who called for his resignation.
"Dismissing wait times when veterans can often wait months for an appointment is negligent and a clear sign that new leadership is needed at the VA," Blunt said last month.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump took McDonald's comments as an opportunity to slap his Democratic opponent. "Obama's VA Secretary just said we shouldn't measure wait times. Hillary says VA problems are not 'widespread.' I will take care of our vets!" he tweeted in the wake of the controversy.
In his interview with the Colorado Gazette, Obama compared the VA to a "big ocean liner" where "on any given day ...we're still seeing problems crop up that we have to correct."
"I think the main message is that we've still got a lot of work to do. It's an all-hands-on-deck process," said the president. Obama also said he opposed dismantling and privatizing the VA.