Pelosi, veterans’ groups call for dismissal of VA secretary Wilkie

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie appears before a House Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in May. Pool Photo by Andrew Harnik/UPI

Dec. 13 (UPI) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joined several veterans groups in calling for the dismissal of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie after a watchdog report said he may have tried to discredit a congressional aide who said she was assaulted at a VA hospital.

“The VA Inspector General report makes clear that Secretary Wilkie engaged in an extremely disturbing cover-up campaign of sexual assault against a veteran,” Pelosi said in a statement Saturday. “He has lost the trust and confidence to serve, and he must immediately resign.”

The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America also called for Wilkie’s resignation Friday, as did Disabled American Veterans.

“It is unfair to expect accountability from the nearly 400,000 VA employees and not demand the same from its top executive,” American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford wrote. “Wilkie failed to meet the standard that the veteran who came forward with the complaint deserved. By the promises set forth by his own department, the American Legion believes Secretary Wilkie should resign.”

Earlier this week Michael J. Missal, the VA’s inspector general, released a report saying Wilkie’s response to the assault complaint was “at a minimum unprofessional.”

The report was inconclusive, but Missal said Wilkie had wrongly claimed the assault accusation was not substantiated.

“It was disappointing that V.A. did not put their full force and focus on determining whether corrective action should be taken to provide a safer and more welcoming environment in their D.C. and other medical facilities,” Missal said.

On Thursday President-elect Joe Biden announced his selection of Denis McDonough as secretary of Veterans Affairs.

McDonough, who served as White House chief of staff, deputy national security adviser and chief of staff of the National Security Council under the Obama administration, will need to be confirmed by the Senate following Biden’s inauguration.


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