The VA Is Refusing To Turn Over Documents To Congress About Outsiders Influencing Policy

Bullet Points
President Donald Trump, left, accompanied by Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, center, shakes hands with Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire, and the CEO of Marvel, right, before signing an Executive Order on "Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection" at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Washington. Also pictured is Laura Perlmutter, second from right.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The Department of Veterans Affairs officials are refusing to hand over documentation that could detail the undue influence of a troika of private businessmen over the department's dealings to Congress, Military Times reports, leading the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee to rebuke the move as “an attempt to stonewall not only a member of Congress but the American public."

  • In August, a bombshell report from ProPublica detailed the influence of three acquaintances of President Donald Trump in shaping VA policy.
  • Known as the “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd," the troika consists of Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, Palm Beach physician Bruce Moskowitz, and lawyer Marc Sherman.
  • The ProPublica investigation suggested that emails from the Mar-A-Lago Crowd were effectively treated as de facto policy directives.

  • In the aftermath, HVAC ranking member Tim Walz (D-Minn.) demanded the VA turn over any records of contact between the three businessmen and the and VA officials, followed by a lawsuit by left-leaning veterans group VoteVets.
  • In a September hearing, newly-minted VA Secretary Robert Wilkie assured lawmakers in a September hearing that none of the three businessmen had any untoward contact with VA officials but declined to release those communications, citing “ongoing litigation alleging violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act" that make any documents “not appropriate for release at this time.”
  • For his part, Military Times reports that Walz is demanding that the VA release those communications by the end of the month. “We have received nothing from VA except excuses,” he said in a statement. The reports of corruption and cronyism are serious and we cannot allow VA to sweep this under the rug. This issue will remain a top concern of the committee until all our questions have been answered.”

The number of U.S. troops diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury following Iran's missile attack on Al- Asad Air Base in Iraq now stands at 50, the Defense Department announced on Tuesday.

Read More
"You gotta be shitting me." (Antiques Roadshow)

There's nothing quite like finding out that the nifty little trinket you blew a paycheck on when you were a junior enlisted service member is actually worth three-quarters of a million dollars. (Take that every SNCO who ever gave a counseling statement on personal finances.)

Read More

The long-awaited Special Operations Command's ethics review has finally been released, which argues that there is no "systemic ethics problem" in the special operations community while acknowledging a range of underlying problems stemming from a high operations tempo and insufficient leadership.

Read More

John Kelly, the retired Marine general who worked as President Trump's chief of staff for more than 16 months, told a crowd in Sarasota, Florida on Monday that he trusted John Bolton and thinks he should testify in the Senate impeachment trial.

"If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton," Kelly said during a town hall lecture series, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, mentioning claims in a forthcoming memoir by Trump's former national security advisor that the president told him a freeze on military aid to Ukraine was conditioned on the country opening an investigation into the Bidens.

Read More
U.S. Army/Sgt. Daphney Black

While the Army is making strides at Fort Wainwright with hopes of improving the quality of life at the base and stopping suicide, Army leaders are also reminding soldiers of one simple thing that could make a difference: Get to know your teammates, and look out for one another.

Read More