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“It would be inappropriate for him to comment on this in his current role as USD.” VA spokesman Curt Cashour told CNN that Wilkie has had “zero involvement in VA decisions since he returned to the Department of Defense May 30.” Cashour said that the personnel moves “are what’s required to ensure VA is performing at its best. “Under President Trump, VA won’t wait to take necessary action when it comes to improving the department and its service to Veterans,” he added. Cashour added that in some cases, “employees who were wedded to the status quo and not on board with this administration’s policies have departed VA,” noting that some left the agency willingly, and others “against their will as they were about to be fired.” “It’s understandable that some of these individuals would want to shift blame away from themselves in an attempt to save face. But the bottom line is that in President Trump’s VA, if employees aren’t getting the job done for veterans, it’s time for them to move on,” Cashour said. O’Rourke was on Capitol Hill this week for a hearing about the VA’s whistleblower protection office, which he used to lead, and was questioned by multiple members of Congress about the agency’s staffing. In one exchange,Rep. Scott Peters, a California Democrat, asked O’Rourke “under what circumstances is disagreeing with the administration a fireable offense?” Peters cited a VA news release issued in April in which the agency says that “under VA’s new leadership, which is now firmly aligned with President Trump and his priorities, the department’s operations have improved in many ways.” The release goes on to say, “In a number of cases, employees who were wedded to the status quo and not on board with this administration’s policies or pace of change have now departed VA.” O’Rourke told Peters that when any agency experiences an organizational shift, sometimes “folks realize, maybe on their own, that they don’t want to be there.” “I think there’s a few cases that we could look at of folks in senior positions where they advocated for a different approach and then the organization … went in a different direction, and they felt like that wasn’t a place they didn’t want to be anymore,” O’Rourke said. In a separate exchange during the hearing, Rep.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/18/politics/veterans-affairs-staff-purge/index.html
JOSH PARTLOW: When I was there, there were three seriously wounded people inside the church. And the police were blocking ambulances from getting in. So for several hours, these people were lying on the floor, bleeding, in pain. One woman, a medical student, had been shot through the leg and had broken her femur. And she was just lying on the ground inside the priest’s house, and no one could get help to her. CHANG: Police knew how badly injured some people were inside the church and were deliberately blocking access to medical assistance. PARTLOW: Right. And the priest at the time was on his cellphone doing a live radio broadcast appealing for help, describing the situation. The State Department was talking to the government. There was all these negotiations going on with the sole intent of trying to get the ambulances into the church to let the wounded be taken out.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit https://www.npr.org/2018/07/17/629896539/washington-post-reporter-describes-violent-clashes-happening-in-nicaragua
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