Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie on Monday fired his deputy, James Byrne, without explanation other than a loss in confidence, Axios reports.
“Today, I dismissed VA Deputy Secretary James Byrne due to loss of confidence in Mr. Byrne’s ability to carry out his duties,” Wilkie said in a statement. “This decision is effective immediately.”
Byrne was confirmed by the Senate about five months ago, following more than two years working in senior positions in the department, which has been embroiled in multiple scandals, including a recent incident in which Andrea Goldstein, a female House committee adviser, accused a man of sexually harassing and assaulting her while in a VA Medical Center cafeteria last fall. Goldstein, a Navy veteran, wrote in Jezebel on Monday that Wilkie’s statement about her allegations, which he called “unsubstantiated claims,” was “implying that I was a liar.”
“Secretary Wilkie’s continued refusal to take ownership of the hostility and sexual violence at VA further perpetuated this hostile culture by both revictimizing a veteran in public and denying the culture of harassment and assault whose existence is well documented,” she wrote.”
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