STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

VA secretary gave inaccurate answers on pro-Confederate ties during confirmation process

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie gave inaccurate answers to senators during his confirmation process...

Posted: Dec 15, 2018 1:32 PM
Updated: Dec 15, 2018 1:32 PM

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie gave inaccurate answers to senators during his confirmation process about pro-Confederate speeches he delivered in 2009.

In response to questions about remarks he made at Confederate memorial events, Wilkie downplayed his participation in a June 2009 event at the Confederate memorial in Arlington National Cemetery as simply introducing a keynote speaker. He also said he didn't have copies of remarks because he had not delivered a speech to such groups in "15-20 years."

Barack Obama

Government and public administration

Government organizations - US

Political Figures - US

Politics

Robert Wilkie

US Congress

US Department of Veterans Affairs

US federal departments and agencies

US Senate

But Wilkie's comments stand in contradiction to what his spokesman told CNN's KFile team last week, when he confirmed that Wilkie delivered a speech extolling the legacy of Robert E. Lee at that June 2009 ceremony at the Confederate memorial. The speech was the same one that he gave to another group in December 2009, which was also published in the Confederate Veteran magazine.

Wilkie's spokesman Curt Cashour told CNN's KFile on Thursday that the secretary answered questions from senators with his "best recollection" of the events. Cashour did not answer a follow-up question about Wilkie's recollection of the 2009 speech at Arlington National Cemetery.

Cashour told CNN's KFILE last week that the December 2009 speech to a Maryland branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans "was the same speech Secretary Wilkie gave at a 2009 official Arlington Cemetery event to which President Obama sent a wreath recognizing the service of Confederate Veterans."

Cashour's response contradicted what Wilkie told senators in his June 2018 confirmation hearing about the Arlington Cemetery event, when 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."

Prior to the 2009 event, scholars had asked then-President Barack Obama to end the tradition of sending a wreath to the Confederate Memorial. Obama decided to send a wreath to the Confederate Memorial, but also to a memorial honoring black soldiers who served in the Civil War.

In written questions after last June's hearing, Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray asked Wilkie for copies of any speeches he gave at Confederate memorial events. Wilkie did not turn over transcripts of his speeches to the senator, saying, "I did not keep copies of the remarks as they were made over 15-20 years ago."

Cashour said the secretary was not aware the speech about Lee was 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."

West Lafayette
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 54°
Kokomo
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Rensselaer
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 48°
Fowler
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 48°
Williamsport
Overcast
53° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 53°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 54°
Frankfort
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 54°
Delphi
Overcast
49° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 46°
Monticello
Overcast
49° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 46°
Logansport
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 48°
Scattered Showers & Storms Tonight
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 149166

Reported Deaths: 3960
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24564781
Lake13079350
St. Joseph8788157
Elkhart8371132
Allen7815221
Hamilton5923113
Vanderburgh553050
Tippecanoe350914
Monroe319438
Hendricks3140130
Johnson2972127
Porter293248
Clark282157
Delaware279674
Vigo248837
Madison226991
Cass221020
LaPorte213057
Warrick186563
Kosciusko173121
Floyd172766
Howard157466
Bartholomew138657
Dubois133724
Marshall130626
Henry121828
Boone118648
Grant118039
Wayne117123
Hancock114144
Noble111333
Jackson107412
Morgan91540
Dearborn90328
Daviess83732
Gibson82611
Clinton81316
Shelby78329
Lawrence77832
LaGrange76615
Harrison73324
Knox69610
Putnam69515
DeKalb68611
Posey6745
Steuben5888
Miami5765
Fayette57515
Montgomery56422
White56215
Jasper5464
Greene51237
Scott50613
Decatur49439
Adams4645
Whitley4316
Clay4276
Sullivan42412
Ripley4178
Wells4125
Orange38624
Wabash3859
Starke3847
Huntington3695
Spencer3686
Franklin36325
Jennings35913
Washington3512
Randolph3378
Fulton3292
Jefferson3285
Pike31612
Carroll30813
Perry28914
Jay2816
Fountain2743
Tipton26623
Parke2182
Newton21111
Vermillion2111
Rush2034
Owen1991
Martin1950
Blackford1903
Crawford1481
Pulaski1431
Brown1283
Ohio1187
Benton1070
Union1020
Switzerland840
Warren731
Unassigned0233

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events