As Donald Trump's presidency comes to an ignominious end, it's not too late for one more cabinet controversy. The Washington Post reported late yesterday:
The Veterans Affairs inspector general informed federal prosecutors this fall of possible criminal conduct by Secretary Robert Wilkie stemming from an investigation into whether he worked to discredit a congressional aide who said she was sexually assaulted, according to three current and former federal officials.
The allegations are, to be sure, important. A congressional staffer alleged that she was groped and propositioned by a man while in the cafe in the main lobby of VA’s flagship medical center. Instead of taking the matter seriously, VA leaders reportedly scrambled to target the accuser.
That said, federal prosecutors did not pursue charges against the VA secretary, though as the Post's article added, the fact that the department's inspector general reached out to the Justice Department reinforces concerns about the seriousness of the allegations.
All of this comes less than a month after the New York Times reported the Justice Department also investigated criminal allegations against former Interior secretary Ryan Zinke, as part of a case referred to prosecutors from the Interior Department's inspector general.
Around the same time, we also learned about the Justice Department's review of former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's role in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, for which Acosta received a slap on the wrist.
Given what we know of Attorney General Bill Barr and the White House's efforts to politicize federal law enforcement, it's an open question as to whether these matters were dealt with an even-handed way.
But it's the sheer volume of controversies surrounding members of the Republican president's cabinet that continues to amaze.
Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, for example, resigned under a cloud of scandal, as did former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, former HHS Secretary Tom Price, and former VA Secretary David Shulkin.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has faced ethics allegations. So has HUD Secretary Ben Carson. David Bernhardt, a former corporate lobbyist for the oil industry, became the subject of an ethics investigation immediately after becoming the nation's Interior secretary. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is facing so many ethics controversies, it's been difficult to keep up with each of them.
While we're at it, let's also not overlook controversies surrounding Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.