Congressional probe of VA deaths in Clarksburg will wait

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — When news first broke of two military veterans being homicide victims at the VA Hospital in Clarksburg, there was shock and outrage. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin called for a Senate investigation, saying federal investigators and the VA were not cooperating enough.

“We will start our own investigation. We will bring them in under oath and find out what really happened,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia on September 13, 2019.

But since then, Senator Manchin has spoken with U.S Attorney General William Barr, and the U.S. Attorney Bill Powell from the Northern District of Virginia, who would prosecute the case. Manchin says Congress will hold off, until the criminal investigation is done.

“I want to have a VA investigation, the United States Senate Veterans Committee. We have the right to do this. But we don;t want to impede and investigation that is going on by our U.S. Attorney. So I have deferred to him,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia.

That’s disappointing to Charleston Attorney Tony O’Dell, who is representing seven VA families, including one of the homicide cases. While he agrees with Congress staying out of the criminal investigation for now, lawmakers could conduct a separate investigation of failed medical policies and procedures at the VA.

“There’s enough information for them to be looking at the system failures of the VA itself, because the purpose of that is to make sure whatever systems are in place, to protect veterans, so this can never happen again, whether it’s negligence, intentional acts, or whatever,” said Tony O’Dell, an attorney for seven VA families whose loved ones died.

But for now, any Congressional investigation is on hold, until charges are filed.

“It’s possible we could see action in this case fairly soon. Bill Powell who is the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia said recently, that he is not at the beginning of the investigation, but at the beginning of the end of it,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

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