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Watchdog Probing Whether VA Secretary Sought to Smear Adviser Who Reported Sexual Assault

HeadlineFeb 28, 2020

The Veterans Administration’s inspector general is probing allegations that VA Secretary Robert Wilkie sought “damaging information” to smear the reputation of a senior veterans affairs policy adviser, after she reported she was sexually assaulted at a VA hospital in Washington, D.C. Andrea Goldstein, a staff member of the Women Veterans Task Force of the House veterans’ committee, reported last September that a man slammed her below the waist and pressed his body against hers as she tried to buy a snack at the medical center’s cafeteria. At the time of the alleged assault, Goldstein had just come from Capitol Hill, where she was working on a bill designed to curb sexual assault and harassment. In January, VA Secretary Wilkie called the sexual assault claims “unsubstantiated” in a letter to Goldstein’s boss. Goldstein responded in an op-ed, writing on the website Jezebel, “He used coded language, but the words still stung. The Secretary of the second largest federal agency knew how his words would resonate. … He was implying that I was a liar.” 

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