The Washington Post reported that John Ullyot, the VA’s chief communications official, was at odds with diversity expert Georgia Coffey after the senior diversity officer called for a more-forceful condemnation of white nationalism following the “Unite the Right” rally that left one woman dead and several others injured.
Coffey, the emails shared with the Post by the American Oversight watchdog group showed, called on the agency to issue a statement denouncing the rally’s “repugnant display of hate and bigotry by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan.”
The report noted that Ullyot directed the diversity officer to stand down, and that people familiar with the exchange said the Trump appointee “was enforcing a directive from the White House, where officials were scrambling to contain the fallout from Trump’s comments” about the rally in which he both praised and criticized “both sides” of the white supremacist rally.
Curt Cashour, a spokesperson for the VA, denied that such a directive was issued.
Then-VA Secretary David Shulkin issued his own statement after the Charlottesville rally decrying white supremacists in a manner many considered more forceful than Trump’s. The report noted, however, that Ullyot said he was acting under Shulkin’s directions — and that the director was copied on the emails.
The Post noted that Coffey retired soon after his dispute over the statement.