May 13, 2021

Pelosi calls for VA secretary to resign over allegations of ‘cover-up campaign of sexual assault against a veteran’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called for the resignation of Dept. of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie over the weekend after a watchdog report alleging mistreatment of a congressional staffer after she filed a sexual assault claim. 

According to Fox News:

Navy Reserve officer and Hill staffer Andrea Goldstein, reported that a hospital contractor “bumped his entire body against mine and told me ‘I looked like I needed a smile and a good time,’” in September 2019 at the Washington Veterans Medical Center (VAMC).

The 68-page report from the VA’s Office of Inspector General illustrated that Secretary Robert Wilkie tried to discredit Goldstein by alleging she was a serial complainer attempting to disparage the VA. The contractor was not charged, in part due to the lack of witnesses or security footage of the incident.

Pelosi responded to the report by issuing a statement condemning Wilkie based on the allegations against him and calling for him to step down from his role immediately.

“The VA Inspector General report makes clear that Secretary Wilkie engaged in an extremely disturbing cover-up campaign of sexual assault against a veteran,” said Pelosi.

“Secretary Wilkie has not only been derelict in his duty to combat sexual harassment but has been complicit in the continuation of a VA culture that tolerates this epidemic,” she continued. “He has lost the trust and confidence to serve, and he must immediately resign.”

Wilkie fired back in his own statement, denying the allegations entirely. Wilkie pointed out that “the VA’s inspector general cannot substantiate that I sought to investigate or asked others to investigate the Veteran.

“The IG could not identify a single instance in which any VA employee violated any rule, regulation or policy,” Wilkie continued. “If it had, it would have issued recommendations, which it did not.”

The Inspector-General himself, Michael Missal, chimed in as well, pushing back against Wilkie’s characterization of his report, claiming:

Neither I nor my staff told you or anyone else at the Department that the allegations were unsubstantiated. Reaching a decision to close the investigation with no criminal charges does not mean the underlying allegation is unsubstantiated.

Wilkie has served as VA Secretary since July 2018 after being confirmed by the Senate in an 86-9 vote and appears to have no intention to comply with Pelosi’s order.

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