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VA watchdog releases report on Wilkie's efforts to disparage assault survivor

VA watchdog releases report on Wilkie's efforts to disparage assault survivor
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The inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs published a report Thursday accusing senior officials, including Secretary Robert WilkieRobert WilkieBiden's nominee for VA secretary isn't a veteran — does it matter? Biden VA pick faces 'steep learning curve' at massive agency Two headstones with swastikas removed from Texas veterans cemetery MORE, of disparaging the credibility of a congressional aide who told investigators that she was sexually assaulted at a VA facility.

Details of the report were revealed a day earlier by The Washington Post, which also that Inspector General Michael Missal had referred the matter to federal prosecutors for possible criminal prosecution of Wilkie. Missal, in his own statement Friday, denied that he had ever referred the matter to prosecutors.

The report alleged that Wilkie interfered in the IG's investigation of the sexual assault claim and lied to IG officials. No charges were ever filed against Wilkie.

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Among the report's other findings made public Thursday include the IG's inability to substantiate accusations that Wilkie had directed VA officials to investigate the alleged victim, an aide to Rep. Mark TakanoMark Allan TakanoUS tensions with China risk fueling anti-Asian harassment at home Democrats rush to Biden's defense on border surge K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE (D-Calif.). The report noted that Wilkie "made comments suggesting that he had received such information, even if not by virtue of an effort to gather it."

"This analysis is not conclusive, however, because access logging was not activated for the veteran’s VA electronic health record, and military record searches were limited to those accessible by VA personnel directly. Accordingly, the OIG cannot substantiate the allegation that Secretary Wilkie investigated or asked others to investigate the veteran," the report stated.

Wilkie has denied any wrongdoing over the issue, telling the Post in a statement published Wednesday that he never ordered such an investigation. His statement did not touch on the IG report's other allegations.

“After nearly a year of investigation, interviews with 65 people and analysis of nearly 1.5 million documents, VA’s inspector general cannot substantiate that I sought to investigate or asked others to investigate the Veteran. That’s because these allegations are false. What’s more, the IG could not identify a single instance in which any VA employee violated any rule, regulation or policy,” Wilkie said.

“Secretary Wilkie’s comments on this report do not respond substantively to its findings," responded the IG's office in a statement. "Instead they mischaracterize key facts and fail to acknowledge the deficiencies in VA’s response to the veteran’s complaint. Notably, his comments do not seek to correct or supplement the findings.”

Updated on 12/11 at 1:55 p.m. to reflect the OIG's denial that the matter was referred to prosecutors.