VA secretary looked for dirt on a House staffer who reported sexual assault in a VA hospital, complaint says
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie personally sought damaging information about a congressional aide who said she was sexually assaulted in a VA hospital, according to an anonymous complaint to the House committee the woman works for.
The written complaint was obtained by ProPublica. In addition, a former senior official with direct knowledge of the matter said Wilkie discussed damaging information he collected about the aide and suggested using it to discredit her. Another person said he spoke with other officials who were in those discussions, and they corroborated the former senior official’s and the written complaint’s account. The people interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying they feared retaliation.
Wilkie denied inquiring into the aide’s past. “I never would do that to a fellow officer,” he said in a statement. “It is a breach of honor.”
The aide, Andrea Goldstein, is a Navy reserve intelligence officer and a senior policy adviser for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Women Veterans Task Force. In September, she said she was sexually assaulted at the VA medical center in Washington. According to Goldstein’s account reported in The New York Times, she was buying a snack in the cafeteria when a man slammed his body into hers, pressed against her and told her, “You look like you could use a good time.” Goldstein said she did not know who the man was, but he was not an employee.
But the complaint alleges that while the inspector general and prosecutors investigated Goldstein’s allegation, Wilkie initiated what the complaint described as “his own investigation into Ms. Goldstein’s credibility and military record.”
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