While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has studiously avoided calling attention to recent allegations of wrongdoing by members of her caucus, she’s still quick to pounce when it comes to members of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Case in point: Pelosi demanded Saturday that Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie submit his resignation after a VA inspector general report criticized his handling of a sexual assault allegation.
According to Fox News, Wilkie has been accused of intentionally calling into question the credibility of Andrea Goldstein, a House staffer and Navy reserve officer who says she was assaulted at the Veterans Medical Center in Washington in September 2019.
Goldstein is an aide to Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Politico reports.
“He must immediately resign”
In her Saturday statement, Pelosi charged that “Wilkie engaged in an extremely disturbing cover-up campaign of sexual assault against a veteran” in his handling of Goldstein’s claims.
“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,” Pelosi added. “He has lost the trust and confidence to serve, and he must immediately resign.”
The speaker also vowed that House Democrats would “continue to fight to end the scourge of sexual harassment and assault in all places,” with Takano at the helm of the effort.
“We will continue to build on this progress until every woman, every servicemember and every veteran can live free from the fear of assault or abuse,” Pelosi wrote Saturday.
According to the inspector general’s report, an investigation into Goldstein’s claims was opened by VA Police late last year, soon after the incident, but it was closed with no charges filed.
Politico reported Saturday that the VA inspector general (IG) was unable to substantiate allegations that Wilkie specifically dug up dirt to disparage Goldstein, but nonetheless criticized him for showing “unprofessional” behavior.
“The tone set by Secretary Wilkie was at minimum unprofessional and at worst provided the basis for senior officials to put out information to national reporters to question the credibility and background of the veteran who filed the sexual assault complaint,” IG Michael Missal wrote, according to Politico.
In addition to Pelosi, a number of advocacy groups have come forward to demand that Wilkie resign in the wake of the IG report. But in a statement to The Hill, the VA said its chief has no plans to step down:
Secretary Wilkie has led VA to achieve landmark improvements in Veterans’ trust, quality of care and employee satisfaction. He will continue to lead the department, including its historic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.