December 11, 2020

Moulton - “VA Secretary Wilkie must resign”

SALEM, Mass. — Representative Seth Moulton released the following statement regarding the findings by the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General that VA Secretary Robert Wilkie mishandled reports of sexual assault at an agency hospital. 

“Late yesterday, the VA Inspector General released a scathing report that showed VA Secretary Robert Wilkie sought to discredit a Navy veteran who reported she was assaulted at a VA facility in Washington, DC by a contractor who worked there. She said a man working at the VA “bumped his entire body against mine and told me I looked like I needed a smile and a good time.” 

The IG’s report makes clear the most powerful people at the VA chose to protect a creep rather than protect a veteran. Wilkie dismissed the veteran’s concerns as politically motivated because the veteran coincidentally is leading efforts to reform the experience women have at the VA, and the VA's senior officials attempted to undermine her credibility. 

For example, Wilkie's spokesman tried to plant a bad story about the veteran in The New York Times, a senior VA official asked the VA Police to run a background check on the veteran before they ran one on the man she accused of assaulting her, and Secretary Wilkie untruthfully said publicly that the veteran’s claims were unsubstantiated. 

In addition to issuing his strong rebuke yesterday, the IG referred some of the incidents he found to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.

All of this aligns with the track record of an administration led by a president who brags about assaulting women to anyone who will listen, and it matches the experience women across the country report having at the VA.

Leaders take accountability. Secretary Wilkie, his spokesman, and the staff named by the IG in this report must resign.”   

In the IG reportInspector General Michael Missal found Secretary Wilkie sought to dismiss Navy Veteran Andrea Goldstein’s report of sexual assault at the Washington DC VA Medical Center by attempting to undermine her credibility and failing to thoroughly investigate her claims. The Inspector General also found that Wilkie’s spokesman, Curt Cashour, attempted to plan negative news about the veteran in The New York Times. 

The Inspector General informed the Justice Department of possible criminal conduct by Wilkie, including interfering with a criminal investigation. Neither Wilkie nor Cashour have been charged with a crime. 

According to The Washington Post, “Goldstein’s complaint highlighted a major struggle for the veterans agency as it tries to serve the health needs of women, the fastest-growing veteran population. Female veterans regularly report sexual harassment and assault at VA clinics and hospitals.” 

 

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