'He Must Resign': Pelosi Says VA Secretary 'Derelict in His Duty to Combat Sexual Harassment'

Following the Department of Veteran Affairs Inspector General's report detailing VA Secretary Robert Wilkie discrediting a sexual assault case, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called on Wilkie to resign.

According to the Associated Press, the report found that Wilkie had "repeatedly sought to discredit the congressional aide who made the complaint and his staff worked to spread negative information about her while ignoring known problems of harassment at the facility."

In her statement, Pelosi said that Wilkie's actions were "an extremely disturbing cover-up campaign of sexual assault against a veteran" and called for his resignation immediately. "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. He has lost the trust and confidence to serve, and he must immediately resign," she said.

In its conclusion, the report states that Wilkie had "privately disparaged the veteran" involved in the complaint and had "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."

Wilkie told The Washington Post that the report and allegations against him are false.

Pelosi's statement said that the case was part of a larger issue that women and veterans face: "This case and the misconduct that followed are part of a broader, well-documented crisis of violence against women who serve. It is a profound injustice that any patriot with the courage to defend our nation has had to experience having their voices silenced and their integrity questioned."

The House Speaker concluded her statement by vowing that House Democrats would continue efforts to combat sexual assault. She also highlighted the Deborah Sampson Act, which sanctions "a VA-wide anti-harassment and anti-sexual assault policy."

"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," she said.

As previously reported, the Disabled American Veterans organization released a statement on Friday also calling for Wilkie to resign. "The Secretary's failure to meet this standard or hold others accountable undermines decades of work that advocates—including many VA staff—have done to bring an end to sexual harassment and assault throughout the department," the statement said in part.

The American Legion and AMVETS also called for Wilkie to resign.

RELEASE: AMVETS National Commander Calls for Resignation of VA Secretary pic.twitter.com/KU0NPx2OwL

— AMVETS (@AMVETSHQ) December 12, 2020

In an emailed statement to Newsweek, the Department of Veterans Affairs Press Secretary Christina Noel said, "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."

Newsweek reached out to Nancy Pelosi for further comment.

Robert Wilkie June task force
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to resign Saturday. Here, Wilkie speaks during a June 17 event at the White House. Alex Wong/Getty