VA chief gave inaccurate information during confirmation on his pro-Confederate ties

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie gave inaccurate answers to senators during his confirmation process regarding pro-Confederate events he attended and speeches he gave in 2009, according to CNN’s KFile

During his Senate hearing, Wilkie said he attended a June 2009 event at the Confederate memorial in Arlington National Cemetery to introduce a keynote speaker, but had not given a speech himself. 


However, Wilkie’s spokesperson confirmed to CNN that he had in fact delivered a speech praising Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the event, which he delivered to another group in December 2009 and was published in the Confederate Veteran magazine. 

Wilkie's spokesman Curt Cashour told The Hill on Friday said Wilkie answered the questions at the time with his "best recollection" of the events.

Cashour’s comments directly contradicted Wilkie’s testimony, in which he said, “The only thing I did was introduce a fellow named Ron Maxwell, who's the producer of the famous movie ‘Gettysburg,’ and I thanked President Obama for his support of an event that celebrated America's veterans, both Union and Confederate. President Obama brought — had a wreath delivered by the old guard of the Army.”

After Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate Democrats introduce legislation to probe politicization of pandemic response Trump health officials grilled over reports of politics in COVID-19 response CDC director pushes back on Caputo claim of 'resistance unit' at agency MORE (D-Wash.) submitted a written request for copies of any speeches he gave at Confederate memorial events, Wilkie said he “did not keep copies of the remarks as they were made over 15-20 years ago.”

Cashour told The Hill Wilkie was not aware the speech had been published in a magazine.

“Whether the handful of events took place close to a decade ago or 15-20 years ago, Secretary Wilkie gave his best recollection of his participation in them, and emphasized that they were strictly historical in nature, almost all official and bipartisan, and he stopped participating in them once the issue became divisive,” Cashour said. “He was not aware that the remarks had been published, and, as he stated, he did not keep copies of the remarks.”

“Once again, the broad issue of his participation in the events based on his best recollection was addressed in depth at the Secretary's two Senate confirmation hearings for (Defense Department) and VA positions in 2017 and 2018, and Secretary Wilkie underscored that he served proudly on Condoleezza Rice's National Security Council staff,” he added. “Both committees and the full Senate confirmed him overwhelmingly for the positions.”